Skip to main content

Full text of "Wordeater"

See other formats

STtrtiet STrausr College 





M i 


-S Rrnl 




^H ' K I HI 

r.B^ - ■•Bj; 

ffSiiiwrt n nil 

fllMBB ft H J 


V ' v- 







wordeater 73 staff 

In order to get a selection published in this issue, four of the above had to vote for acceptance. For the 

award winners, only John Stobart is responsible. 

Manuscripts or cover designs for 

wordeater 75 

must be submitted to John Stobart 
in room C-1069 by : 

February 22, 1991 

Manuscripts will not be returned and 

\\\\\\\\N\\\\\\\\N\N\^^ «SSSS 


February 22, 1991 
April 26, 1991 


$5.00 to Holly Bruns 
$5.00 to Connie Legters 
$5.00 to Joey McGrath 
$5.00 to Maria Mellinger 
$5.00 to Barbara Pillasch 


$20.00 to Maria Mellinger 
$5.00 to Holly Bruns 


All copyrights are retained by the authors, and materials may not be reprinted without their permission. 

Holly Bruns 

Family Steps 


Word eater 73 

Connie Legters 
Barbara Pillasch 

Uncertain Truth 
Another Day 


Sherry Gunderman 

I Like Big Parties 


table of contents 

Carol Spinabella 
Maria Mellinger 

A Twist of Fate 
Wedding Guests 


Sherry Gunderman 

Morrissey Sings It Right 


Bob Loewe 

Two Hundred Pounds 


Connie Legters 

Visiting Hours 


Bob Loewe 



Judy Belfield 



Maria Mellinger 

After a Day of Words 


Julie Haggerty 



Brenda Warfield 



Malinda Holiday 



Shellie Rae Smith 

The Unicom and the Little Girl 


Holly Bruns 

Wisdom Through the Pages 


Sherry Gunderman 

Big Deal 


Sherry Gunderman 

What Happened to My Enchanting 

Maria Mellinger 

A Bad Girl Having a Bad Time 




Carol Spinabella 



Judy Belfield 



Barbara Pillasch 

This Morning 


Jeff Graves 

Those Eyes That Reel Me In 


Sherry Gunderman 

I Give In 


Sherry Gunderman 

A Present 


Maria Mellinger 

I'm Going To Slouch 


Robert Franklin 



Joey McGrath 

Life Bites the Big One Blues 


Lora Baker 

Fallen Idols 


Maria Mellinger 

There Was a Time 



Beade Tribute Haiku 


Connie Legters 

Secret Lover 


Maria Mellinger 

Months After You Had Gone 


Bob Loewe 

Fickle Lover 


Lora Baker 



Maria Mellinger 

Years of Typical American 

Malinda Holiday 

My First and Only Child 




Maria Mellinger 

So Much Depends On A Body 


Chad Elmore 



Judy Belfield 



Connie Legters 

The Neon Motel 


Jeffrey Michael B 



Sherry Gunderman 

A Visit to the Park 


June Johnson 



Holly Brum 



NOTE: Also accepted but reserved for Wordeater 74 

Malinda Holiday 

I Can't Stop the Rain From 

because of space limitations of this issue were: 



Lora Baker 





Bob Loewe 

Script for Cable Movies at 


Four A.M. 


Never Could I Ever 

Maria Mellinger 

Excuse Me 


Julie Haggerty 


Sherry Gunderman 

Breathy Fragments of Poetry 


Maria Mellinger 

You Used To Tell Me 

Julie Haggerty 

How Will It Be? 


When You Leave 

Jeff Graves 

You Came Alone and Left Alone 


To Love A Dark Horse 

Joey McGrath 

Coming of Age 


Maria Mellinger 

He Left Her 


Look for these next time. 

Sherry Gunderman 

I Always Dream In Color 


Judy Belfield 



Sherry Gunderman 

Don't Dream It's Over 


Bob Loewe 



Jeffrey Michae B 

How Dreary You Are! 


Robert Franklin 

Relative Motion 


Maria Mellinger 

The Most Ordinary 


Sherry Gunderman 

The Window Booth 


Maria Mellinger 

In Which Pooh Is Introduced 
to the Animal Mathematics 


Bob Loewe 

Haven't You Seen the Grass 


June Johnson 

The Settlement 


Maria Mellinger 

He Was a Boy Back In Poland 


Sherry Gunderman 

Two Days Ago 



Matt Brown 

A Breed Apart 



Maria Mellinger 

Wishing Laughter, Hating 


NOTE: The following story was accepted last spring 
for WORDEATER 72. That issue, however, turned out 
to be too full to include it, so it appears in this issue, 
below. Bob Loewe was awarded one of the prose prizes 
of WORDEATER 72 based on the contribution of this 

Bob Loewe 


"Why can't they just leave me alone?" Centil pon- 
dered as she pulled herself up by the slimy rock wall. 
Everything was slimy in Lost Town, the only place on 
Geroth where even the rocks sweat in the heat and hu- 
midity. She wiped away the track of blood seeping from 
the corner of her lip. She was tired of fighting and plan- 
ning only to have her plans shattered and the fight forced 
back upon her. It seemed it had been that way for most 
of her fifteen years. 

She kicked the brigand in the groin for spite, even 
though she knew he couldn't feel it She bent over to 
check his pulse. Nothing moved but the brigand's eyes, 
which followed Centil's movements. She grabbed his 
hair and pulled his head forward, to retrieve her knife 
from the back of his first vertebrae, and slammed his 
head against the ground. Working quickly, Centil wiped 
the knife on his shirt and began cutting away his 
clothes, taking care to check all pockets for useful items. 
After dropping his rings in his coin pouch, she tied it 
around her right ankle. She removed his wrist bracers 
and put them on, watching as they adjusted to fit her. 

His eyes followed her more slowly now as she tied 
his boot knife to her right leg and slid her own knife 
into her forearm sheath. Her sleeve had been torn away, 
and a vent had been torn across the front of her blouse. 
The only thing keeping her skirt together was the belt at 
her waist The seam had given in the struggle, and she 
was exposed from ankle to waist on her right side. She 
decided her outfit was too seductive. She couldn't use 
the street to get back to her room or she would have to 
fight again. She kicked the naked brigand. 

"I'll bet (kick) you (kick) thought you would die 
(kick) on the battlefield! (kick) You might have (kick) if 
you didn't (kick) rape people (kick, kick, kick). She un- 
sheathed his sword and opened his belly for the rats. 
There would be nothing left by morning. 

She tied the brigand's buckler around her waist and, 
after wiping the sword on his shirt, sheathed it (Kick) 
She wadded up his clothes, except the leather vest and 
threw them in one of the garbage piles as she ran to the 
back of the alley. She climbed atop a barrel and planned 
her ascent on the back wall of the Dragon's Breath Inn. 


The tallest building in town at thirty feet, the inn had 
the advantage of sheltering anyone on its roof from the 
sight of those on the street Centil slowly climbed the 
slippery stone and relaxed only when she lay safely on 
the roof. 

She removed her gear and pulled herself up and into 
the huge rain barrel to wash the dirt of battle from her 
wounds and to escape from the heat She leaned over 
backwards until the water spread over her face. How 
easy it would be just to inhale the water! Centil paused 
before popping up and feeling the weight of the water 
draw her hair back over her pointed ears. She moved to 
the edge of the barrel and looked over the countryside. 

There seemed to be campfires in the Valley of the 
Lake. Turning her head, she saw a live fire on Oilman's 
Knoll — about five miles away. Probably Galladon. He 
was the only one crazy enough to camp out there in the 
shadow of Mount Karak, where the dragan Karak slept 

Centil had encountered Karak only once, when he 
had raided the town. She had wondered why he had 
looked right at her before turning away to consume 
someone else. Perhaps he had turned away because she 
wasn't running from him. Why should she run? Only 
people who have something to live for run from danger. 
"Ironic," she thought "the only reason I am breathing is 
because I had no reason to live." 

Centil carefully and painfully finished washing her 
scrapes and climbed out of the rain barrel. The fire on 
the knoll was out Centil stared at the knoll, searching 
for even a hint of flame- — nothing. She scanned the 
skies and the surrounding area. The campfires in the 
Valley of the Lake were going out. Strange. 

As Centil dried herself, she cut a strip from the bot- 
tom of the vest and, after making eyelets in her skirt 
used it to tie the seam shut She put her blouse on and 
covered the tear by tying the vest over it with another 
thong. She donned the rest of her belongings and count- 
ed the coins™ fifty gold, six silver, six copper. "Not 
bad," she thought 

Centil tied the pouch to the buckler and sat down to 
think. If Galladon had broken camp, something was def- 
initely wrong. Karak had to be out The fires in the 
valley would only be extinguished if no one was there to 
tend them. But were the fires dying because their tenders 
were fleeing from the dragon or because they were on 
their way to attack the town? She examined the trail to 
the valley. There was some movement "Must be brig- 
ands," she guessed. She searched the skies, but there 
was no sign of the dragon. She knew he was out. 
Where was he? 

Cries sounded from the northwest side of the town. 
Karak had landed. Decisions. Should she let herself be 


Fill 1990 

Galladon, continued 

eaten by the dragon, as she surely would be if she re- 
mained on the roof, or should she jump and hope the fall 
would do the job? If she stayed on the roof and wasn't 
eaten, she might be burned to death when the brigands 
arrived to burn the town. There was nowhere to go, 
nowhere to hide. "Pick a death," she said to the night 
and climbed down the same wall she had scaled. 
Sprinting down the alley, she leaped the brigand's corpse 
and the gathering rats and inched into the street, where 
she stopped dead. She no longer knew where the dragon 

People were running and screaming. A town of 
five-hundred was reduced to a madhouse of panic and 
shock. Centil turned in the direction of the greatest con- 
centration of screams and walked down the street, being 
careful not to get run over by a panicked townsman or a 
spooked horse. What were these people trying to do? 
Scare the problems away by screaming? "Where are 
you, you scaly old son of a bitch?" 

"Why do you ask?" 

Centil spun around and found herself staring up at 
Karak's height "I've been looking for you," she chal- 

Karak lowered his head so that Centil looked direct- 
ly into one of his nostrils. "Why?" he asked. 

Centil winced and, attempting not to inhale his pu- 
trid breath, replied, "I think I should like you to eat me 

Karak turned his head a little and, while Centil was 
no longer directly in front of the beast, she could still 
see the cloud he exhaled settle slowly to the ground. "I 
decided it's better to die by the dragon than at the hands 
of that mob." 

"Optimistic. She thinks they'd kill her." 

"Funny! Look, I figure you have to bite me at 
least once to swallow me, and that bite should end it 
It's faster than dying under one of them." She pointed to 
the valley. 

"Still optimistic." 

"If you're going to eat me, then do it now. If 
you're not, I'm going to leave. Happy slaughter." 
Centil turned and began to walk away. 

On her second step, the dragon asked, "Surely, you 
don[*t expect me to swallow a sword? Drop your sword, 
and we'll talk." 

Centil unfastened the buckler and let it fall. 

"And the knife and the dagger. And the belt" 

"My skirt will, fall." 

"Does it matter? You're about to be eaten." 

Centil dropped everything and was glad she was 
wearing her longer blouse, even if it didn't cover her 



"Nice legs." 

"Shut up and eat me!" Centil yelled. She stepped 
forward and looked up at the dragon once again. 

"I don't think you're going to find this as pleasant 
as you anticipated." 

Karak was impossibly fast. Centil was entirely en- 
veloped in darkness and being lifted from the ground. 
Karak hadn't closed his jaws, and she started sliding. 
The dragon had spoken truthfully. She forced her arms 
against the sides of the dragon's throat Karak was 
going to pay for trying to swallow her whole. One of 
her hands found his windpipe, and she forced it closed, 
bracing herself with her feet against the top of Karak's 
mouth. Centil found the opening of the beast's fire 
gland and forced it shut. "This is strange," Centil 
thought "I am determined not to die. Why?" She 
struggled and squirmed to keep from sliding down the 
dragon's throat "Because you're a male, you bastard." 

Karak threw his head from side to side and turned 
his neck, trying to dislodge Cntil. He attempted to 
knock her out of place with his tongue, pushing and 
pressing her up against the roof of his mouth. 

Centil could feel the roof of his mouth scratching 
her like stucco while she fought to keep her legs away 
from his teeth. She pushed her arms harder against the 
sides, making sure no air entered and no fire came out 
How long could Karak go without breathing? Would her 
strength hold out that long? 

Karak wrapped his tongue around her right ankle 
and pulled. Centil wouldn't budge. He'd have to try 
something else. Karak coughed a full-force stomach- 
assisted cough. 

Centil forced her arms against the two openings 
even harder as the first wave of fetid stomach gas poured 
over her. She closed her streaming eyes and held her 
breath to avoid taking in the acidic fumes that burned 
their way over her back and legs before escaping the 
dragon's mouth. The third wave came, and the fourth. 
Centil's lungs burned with longing for air. 

Karak's head drooped a little, and his body began to 
go through spasms of wrenching violence. Centil could 
feel the dragon's giant heart skipping and struggling, 
straining to carry oxygen-poor blood to his huge mus- 
cles. She sensed the muscles collapsing as the dragon's 
body sank slowly to the ground and the heartbeat weak- 
ened. When the great head finally settled to the ground, 
the beast's heartbeat was almost imperceptible, but 
Centil hung on until nothing moved, twitched, or beat 
She backed carefully out past his great yellowed teeth 
and into the pandemonium of the town. 

She looked over the form of the fallen dragon. She 


Fill 1990 

Galladon, continued 

couldn't see all of it in the darkness. Only one-third 
was visible. It looked like a scaly leviathan housecat, 
sleeping peacefully in the street People were still run- 
ning everywhere screaming. Now they were running 
from men. "What am I doing?" Centil asked herself. "I 
was safer in there!" 

She grabbed her skirt and her gear and climbed back 
into the dragon's mouth. The smell was horrible, but 
she could breathe, and with the dragon's tongue no 
longer trying to smash her, she could move around a lit- 
tle. Best of all, only one person could attack her at a 
time if she were discovered, and they would have to do 
so between the great teeth. 

Feeling a little more comfortable when her lower 
half was covered once again, Centil wriggled around so 
she could see out between the dragon's jaws. Brigands 
were rounding people up and collected them in the street. 
Those that fought were beaten. Those that ran were run 
down. Those that almost escaped grew arrows out of 
their backs. All were stripped, bound and left in the cen- 
ter of the street, naked and bleeding. 

A girl was pulled down in front of the Dragon's 
Breath Inn. One brigand sat on her head and held her 
arms while another tore off her clothes. Centil looked to 
the other side and saw a similar scene with the black- 
smith's son as the victim. All she could do was back 
down the dragon's throat and hope she wasn't spotted. 
She closed her eyes. 

A few hours later, when all the townspeople had 
been rounded up and the buildings searched, two brigands 
were deciding the fate of various persons. Most were 
chained at the ankle. The elderly and severely injured 
were slaughtered. Children were herded into wagons and 
carted off. Some of the uglier teenagers were taken out 
of sight The two men worked their way up the street 
until they reached the dragon. "What happened to 
Karak'?" the tall one asked. 

"Peasant poisoning," the other replied as he moved 
toward the dragon. He climbed on its snout and sat with 
his legs dangling, so only his feet were visible to 
Centil. He wore white armor. Plates on his ankles and 
his calves appeared to be covered in some form of porce- 
lain. "Abusino won't like it when you tell him Karak 

"I'm not telling him. You're in charge," the first 
man responded. Both men laughed as the second one 
jumped back off the snout and they continued their deci- 
sions on who would be slaves and who would be given 
as rewards to the slavers. 

Centil closed her eyes, glad the dragon's throat was 
dark and confining. She could not be seen or heard easi- 


ly. She'd have to scream over and over just to be found. 
Unfortunately, all she wanted to do was scream. 
"Relax!" she whispered to herself. "You're going to get 
out of this, and then you're going to sit in the river until 
all the dragon smell is washed away, and then," Centil 
paused and thought carefully, "and then you'll kill the 
man in white and whoever Abusino is." 

She watched carefully as the people were herded out 
of town and the buildings were set on fire. She tried to 
memorize every slaver's face, every peculiar walk or 
voice or feature. Everything. The children were taken 
away. In the glow of the burning inn, slavers finished 
chaining people together, and all were marched out As 
the last slaver passed from view, Centil decided that to- 
morrow she would go to the knoll to determine what had 
happened to Galladon. She fell exhausted onto the floor 
of the dragon's mouth and slept fitfully in the safest 
place she'd ever known. 

Chapter 2 

Galladon wiped the sweat from his brow and 
stepped back from the dranotincha he was skinning. It 
was a hideous-looking creature with mottled reptilian 
skin that blended perfecdy with the surrounding country- 
side. Galladon hated skinning. It was a smelly, messy, 
revolting, dangerous occupation, but it paid well. He sat 
down to sharpen his knife for the third time that morn- 
ing and scanned the area for the wolf. 

"The Bitch will come soon." He had named her the 
Bitch because he thought it senseless to give a real name 
to anything so feral as a wolf, especially that wolf. 
Galladon dropped the stone and resumed cutting away the 
armored hide. "I'll get two suits of armor out of this 

'Two suits at eighty gold apiece," he calculated and 
added the amount to the four-thousand gold he already 
had. 'Ten-and-a-half suits more to hunt and cure." Five- 
thousand gold was the price of a merchant ship. Next 
year, he would have the money. Then he could travel to 
Kinmarais and contract to have his vessel built. 
Somewhere along the way, he had to learn to said, but 
he'd worry about that later. 

Galladon made the final cut and the hide fell away 
from the five-hundred pound lizard and settled like a 
miniature at the base of Oilman's Knoll. He rolled it 
up, took it down to the fjord and washed it The tree the 
carcass of the dranotincha was tied to had begun to bow 
under the weight "One more year. Only eleven more 
suits— as long as his wife didn't find out he had the 
money. Galladon began gutting the beast He started at 
the base of the abdomen and cut his way us. He had 
started at the top once and was buried inoffal before he 


3 F»ll 1990 

Galladon, continued 

had got half way. He'd never do that again. His mind 
wandered as he worked at the familiar routine. 

"I should be married to that old wolf. She only 
tests me once in a while." He wondered whether his 
wife was bedding the blacksmith's son again. 
Sometimes he camped out on the Knoll just so he 
wouldn't find them together. Sometimes he thought 
about charging down to his house, breaking down the 
door, and killing them both as they lay naked in each 
other's arms. Galladon thought about everything he did 
before he acted even though he was sure he would be 
happier if he stopped thinking and just did. Adultery 
was punishable by death in Lost Town, but he didn't 
want his wife dead He only wished to be rid of her. 

As Galladon cut away the last of the entrails, he 
looked again for the wolf. "What if the friar were to 
catch them?" he asked himself. She couldn't deny it 
then, and he would be able to dissolve the marriage. No. 
He'd just wait a year and sail off into oblivion, leaving a 
widow — with what? 

She could feed and clothe herself for a year for ten 
gold. Perhaps he would stay a year-and-a-half and leave 
her with five-hundred. Money for fifty years would be 
sufficient The oldest person in town was fifty-five. 
Most people didn't reach forty-five. A widow with lots 
of money could do quite well for herself. She could set 
herself up with the blacksmith's son, if he'd take her. 
Galladon untied the holding line, lowered the remaining 
190 pounds onto an oilskin, wrapped it, and dragged it to 
a huge stone game box he had built with a cast-iron lid. 
What was his wife doing now? He put the new meat in, 
removed the rabbit he had shot that morning, and locked 
the lid down. He didn't want to think about his wife any 

Hunting dranotinchas was fun. Rabbits were just 
foodo Cleaning anything was just labor. As twilight 
fell, Galladon led his donkey, hide tied to it, up the only 
trail scaling Oilman's Knoll. The knoll was a strange 
place. It looked like a mountain that had had its top 
lopped off by a god. People thought Galladon mad for 
camping there in full view of the dragon, but he rational- 
ized that a dragon wouldn't go after a lone individual 
with no treasure when there was a whole town to sacked 
nearby. "Besides, I probably don't taste very good." 
There was no wind, and he made camp and started his fire 
easily. Rabbit tasted fme, but he really wanted a steak 
from a real farm-raised cow. He had one once and sa- 
vored every bite. That was a long time ago. 

Galladon had finished his rabbit and was leaning 
back on his gear when he heard a sound on the trail. 
Was the wolf here? He grabbed his bow, knocked an 


arrow, and waited. The wolf would have come right into 
camp. He quickly glanced around. There were fires in 
the Valley of the Lake — only three miles away. His 
spine itched with the uneasy feeling of being watched 
from behind. The seventy-pound draw of the bow was 
tiring his arm as he waited for whatever was coming up 
the trail. There was no more noise. Had the intruder 
stopped? Was anything on the trail? No. Galladon 
shoulder rolled, came up on one knee and fired. The 
arrow passed easily through the thief s head and into the 
night "What's happening?" He waited for others to ap- 
pear, but there were none. Galladon crept to the edge of 
the knoll and looked down. He saw five more coming 
up the path. He searched the first man. Nothing. Just a 
knife and a sword. The bastard's sword was better than 
his, with superb balance and a brass hilt 

"You can't fight off five with a sword." Galladon 
looked at the body. "Your friends wouldn't expect you 
to tell them what was up here, would they? You're sup- 
posed to be the surprise." He unpacked his donkey, 
putting everything vital in his knapsack and piling the 
rest under the skin. He crept back to the edge. They 
were about three-hundred yards down the trail now. 

He returned once more to the campsite, threw the 
body on the fire to extinguish it and led the donkey onto 
the trail. He took his bow, got behind the beast and 
slapped the ass on the as with the flat of his sword. The 
donkey ran down the trail braying and screeching into the 
first man. It tripped and slid off the knoll trail, taking 
four of the five men with it The fifth stood fifty yards 
away, sword glistening and ready. "What you gonna do 
now that I'm still here?" the stranger mocked. Galladon 
knocked an arrow, fired, and continued down the trail. 

What was happening? Was his wife safe. Where 
was the wolf? What was so wrong? He could see fig- 
ures on the trail from the valley moving toward Lost 
Town. He also saw the dragon land. "No!" Galladon 
ran full speed down the trail. He knew he'd have to be 
more careful when he got to the bottom, where he had to 
worry about being hit from any direction instead of just 

Galladon reached the bottom and eased the pace, 
rolling his feet noiselessly as he ran. "I wish the wolf 
bitch were here," he thought "I'll never see one of 
those damn lizards until it's too late. Galladon was ap- 
proaching the game box when he sensed something and 
started to crawl. He skirted the clearing, trying to get a 
good view of what was happening. 

Atop the game box, in a crouch, was the bristling 
Bitch. At the other end, eating the offal, was a dranotin- 
cha thaD looked like it weighted three-hundred pounds. It 
obviously didn't consider the wolf a threat Galladon 


4 Fill 1990 

Galladon, continued 

Galladon carefully put an arrow to the string and waited 
for the gorging dranotincha to lift its head. An arrow 
would never go through the armor on its back. It would 
have to be a throat shot or through one of its eyes. 
Galladon raised the bow and took aim at the creature's 
eye. He fired. 

Chapter 3 

The arrow missed its target, hitting just above the 
dranotincha's eye, and ricocheted off. Starded, the lizard 
spun around without looking and disappeared. "Oops," 
Galladon shrugged at the wolf. Wolf made a strange ca- 
nine sound, as if asking what to do. 

"This way," directed Galladon. The wolf followed 
him through the woods on route ten yards away from the 
tail so as to see but not be seen by any travelers. 

Suddenly, the wolf passed Galladon and stopped, 
blocking the trail. The two stood listening for a mo- 
ment before Galladon, too, heard the sound of screams 
down the trail. A woman screeched. Not his wife — the 
sound was too high and grainy. People were in trouble, 
but they couldn't be seen on the trail. Galladon gave the 
wolf a shove, and it ran ahead to locate the sound and 
stand to mark a safe distance for Galladon. This routine 
had been learned by many adventures hunting dranotin- 
cha. Wolf would locate the lizard, and Galladon would 
come up even with Wolf before firing. Somehow, Wolf 
always knew exactly how close she could get without 
being detected. 

Galladon stopped running when he spotted Wolf. 
He silendy came up behind her. Through the trees and 
down the road, he could see the prone form of a mer- 
chant-man from the town. Four brigands were beating 
another unidentifiable person, and the merchant's wife 
was being held to the ground by a fifth brigand with a 
dagger. Galladon knocked an arrow and was preparing to 
fire when the drubbing stopped and the victim was aban- 
doned. The five held a brief counsel while the woman's 
hands were tied behind her back. Four continued down 
the trail while the fifth shoved the merchant's wife in the 
direction of the town. 

Galladon dropped to the ground and Wolf crouched 
low as the four ran from sight in search of more fleeing 
townsmen. When they could no longer be heard, 
Galladon signaled Wolf to resume her run toward the 
town. Galladon followed until he came alongside the 
merchant's wife being herded along the trail, chastised 
and beaten with every step. Galladon took aim and fired 
as Wolf exploded into action. The arrow entered the back 
of the brigand's neck seconds before Wolf landed and tore 
his throat out Man, wolf, and wife all hit the ground at 


the same time. 

As Galladon arrived at the scent, the woman was 
trying to back away from Wolf, who watched her with 
curiousity. "Don't worry, Ma'am, Wolf only attacks 
what I shoot" Galladon saw shock and a lack of com- 
prehension in her eyes. 

"What hurts?" She looked blankly at Galladon, and 
he repeated, "What hurts?" 


"Can you walk?" As she stood, he quickly looked 
her over to see if anything appeared physically wrong. It 
didn't "Where are you going?" 

"My husband, brother, and I were running." 


"I didn't know." She stared at him vacantly. 

"Hide five-hundred yards down the trail and thirty 
into the woods until the brigands come back. When 
they have passed out of your sight continue going away 
from town down the trail until you get to the clearing at 
the base of Gilman's Knoll. There you will find a game 
box. Climb inside and close the lid until morning. 
Then go down the trail that runs from the Valley of the 
Lake and towards Cannontown for two or three days 
until you meet a woman in Cannon Forest She will 
find you. Do not attempt to find her. Her name is 
Almeah. Tell her that Galladon sends his regards. 
Repeat my instructions." 

She did. Galladon gave her the brigand's dagger and 
sent her down the trail. He grabbed the body by the feet 
and dragged it into the woods, knowing the dranotincha 
would have all traces of it gone by morning. 

Two miles left 

Wolf waited every thousand or so feet for Galladon, 
running behind, until they approached the last stretch be- 
fore Lost Town. They could hear screams of panic and 
sounds of looting from the hamlet's heart Echoing 
through the woods, the sounds made it exhausting for 
Galladon to maintain his concentration or control. He 
wanted to run. Run into the woods and safety. Just run 
and let his wife fend for herself. He didn't He couldn't 

He surveyed the topography surrounding the town 
and began to formulate a plan for getting in. Galladon 
tapped Wolf and led her off on the trail approaching up- 
stream of the town. 

One mile left 

Wolf followed to an old swimming hole where 
Galladon pushed her down. She lay at the edge of the 
water, blending in with the plants. "Stay!" He dropped 
the backpack, stripped off his sword and shirt and en- 
tered the water with his bow and arrows held high. 

"Wet strings snap or stretch." Galladon could hear 


5 Fill 1990 

Galladon, continued 

his father's lectures echoing in the part of his brain he 
reserved for semi-forgotten memories. "Careful where 
you step. You don't want to fall and get the bow wet," 
his father's voice told him. "Careful." 

One quarter mile left 

As Galladon neared the town, he sank farther into 
the water until his nose was the only thing that broke 
the surface other than the bow, which was held an inch 
above the water. He drifted the final stretch, trying not 
to make a sound or ripple, to the old stone bridge in the 
center of town. 

He rose quietly out of the water under the bridge 
and stole a peek at the town. Chaos, pure chaos. No de- 
fense had been erected, nor any battle fought. The town 
had been taken completely by surprise. From his posi- 
tion, he could see people being snipped and tied togeth- 
er. Or chased, or killed, or.... 

He closed his eyes so he could better concentrate. 
He searched through the clamor for the sound of his 
wife's voice. 

Galladon did not open his eyes again until he heard 
his wife's scream coming from the direction of his 
house. She and the blacksmith's son were pulled half- 
naked from the house. One of the invaders shouted, 
"Come and see what nice little mice we trapped in the 
attic." Galladon saw her still defiant face as she stood in 
the street, every inch the perfect lady. "Who is this?" 
the invader asked her as he shook the blacksmith's son. 

Galladon thought his wife's lover pitiable as he 
trembled and shook from fear. Oblivious to what was 
going on around him, he strained to break his captor's 
hold. No amount of squirming would free him, howev- 
er. "Is this your husband?" one brigand asked contemp- 

Galladon saw her face flash a brief look of concern 
which was quickly replaced by another look — one 
Galladon knew well — her look of contemplation. She 
never looked at the knoll where she knew he had been. 
She never looked at the squirming form next to her. She 
stood with that look on her face, thinking. 

"Is this your husband?" The brigand kicked the 
blacksmith's son in the groin for emphasis. 

"My husband died before I took this man for my 
lover three years ago. If this were he, you would already 

"Then you don't care what happens to this boy?" 

"Yes, I do. I'm just not in a position to do any- 
thing at the moment," she replied calmly. 

"So, it would bother you if we did this?" he asked 
as he tore away the boys' remaining clothing and 


The blacksmith's son, erupting in panic, shook off 
his captors and ran blindly over the bridge, pursued by a 
laughing brigand. Galladon saw his former rival pulled 
down screaming into the street. He did not want to see 
any more. He watched his wife who stood surrounded in 
the street. One brigand laughed and said, in a soft, 
mocking voice, "Yoooour turn." Galladon fired one 
arrow and ducked under the surface of the water, bringing 
the bow under with him. 

He held his breath as long as he could, then slowly 
let the air out of his lungs to buy more time. Only 
when his lungs absolutely burned for air did he surface 
quietly, fighting to restrain himself from swallowing air 
in great noise gasps. 

Galladon remained there through the night, listen- 
ing to the sounds of his town being packed up and herded 
away. Dawn came two hours after the last of the caravan 
had left 

He climbed out of the stream and looked around. 
There was no sign of anyone, just a huge motionless 
dragon lying in the street about a hundred feet from the 
bridge. He made a mental note to inspect it later and 
moved quickly and quietly toward his house. 

He had that same itchy feeling he had had on the 
knoll. He spun around. "Galladon! It's me, Centil." 
Galladon relaxed his grip on the dagger and looked her 
over. Centil's clothes were in tatters, her skin was 
scraped and bruised, and her face was pale with black 
smudges of fatigue under her eyes, but, all in all, she 
was smiling and blushing. In an attempt at modesty, 
she held the vent in her blouse shut with one hand while 
the other attempted to keep too much of her thigh from 
showing. He wondered where she got the sword and 
moved toward her. 

"You look like you, single-handedly, took on the 

"I did," she blushed. "You see, last night, I...." 

'Tell me later. We've got to get out of here. Go 
into my house, look through my wife's things if there 
are any left, and take what you need." 

"Won't she be...," Centil paused. She saw the 
corpse for the first time. "I'm sorry." She ran into the 

Galladon walked through the brush to where Wolf 
waited with the gear. He re-strung his bow, collected his 
gear, and led Wolf back to town. They arrived just as 
Centil came out of the house. 

"Look! Bloomers! I've never...." She looked at 
Wolf. "Is that a real wo— " 

Galladon nodded. 

"I 1 can't seem to finish a sentence this morning. 
How are you? What's his name?" 


Fill 1990 

Galladon, continued 

"Hers. She's just Wolf." 

"Hello, Wolf, I'm Centil." She extended her hand 
for Wolf to sniff. "Can I have the bloomers? I've never 
had any before." 

Galladon smiled quietly and briefly. He turned to 
his fallen wife's body. 

"Wow!" Centil exclaimed. "Someone is a good 

"I am. I'll explain later. Let's go. You can get 
cleaned up when we get to the knoll." Centil warily 
agreed, and the three took the trail toward the knoll. No 
one was there to see Karak's chest slowly rise and fall. 

Chapter 5 

"But if you were so made at her, why did you shoot 
her? You should have just let them cart her off. It 
would have served her right!" 

"I shot her because I knew I couldn't save her, and 
she didn't turn me in." 

Centil pondered Galladon' s last statement as the 
two sat in the shade with their backs against a tree. The 
road could barely be seen from their resting place. 
Passersby appeared as shadows. Men on horseback had 
passed driving degraded throngs towards Lost Town. 
Each time they heard the sounds of another group ap- 
proaching, the two ceased their whispering and watched 
as the shadows passed, praying none of the slavers left 
the trail for any reason. Another horseman rode by and 
out of hearing range as Centil pondered whether to tell 
Galladon what she really thought — that his wife was 
mean and had wanted to see the blacksmith's son torn 
down in the street 

Centil decided against candor. If Galladon wanted 
to believe his wife tried to protect him, she wouldn't dis- 
illusion him. Centil liked Galladon. He was a fine 
swordsman and woodsman. He had a certain cleverness 
about dealing with situations, and he was an absolute 
dope about handling people. He was the perfect compan- 
ion for her. All he asked was that she be his friend and 
not betray him. Centil felt safe around Galladon because 
he would never hurt her. Or try to have her. She liked 
feeling safe in the presence of a man. Most of all, she 
liked him because he treated her like a person. 

Centil glanced at Galladon as he sat next to her 
with his eyes closed and mused that he could be a lot 
more stupid and clumsy, and she would still like him. 
Just because you listen to me like I'm somebody, she 
reasoned. Galladon's chest slowly rose and fell. 
"Galladon," Centil whispered. "Galladon!" She jabbed 
him in the ribs, and he woke with a start "There are 
people all around who would love to kill us, and you're 


sleeping. Wake up!" 

"What difference does it make if I'm awake or 
asleep? If they're going to kill me, it doesn't matter. 
Now, let me sleep." 

"No, let's get someplace safer and then you can 

"Got anywhere in mind?" Galladon asked sarcasti- 

"No." Centil thought a moment "What if we 
went along the trail?" 

'To where?" 

"I don't know." 

"We'd be easy to spot if we were moving around 
and making noise." Galladon opened his eyes and looked 
at Centil, still in her torn clothes with makeshift patch- 
es. She looked miserable. 

"You up for a hike?" 

"Why? You just said we'd be too noisy." 

"If we head away from the trail to the north, we can 
reach the Crystal River by nightfall." 

"How far is that?" 

"About eight miles." 

"It's not even noon yet and you say it's going to\ 
take till nightfall? What are we gonna do, crawl?" 

"Part of the way, yes! Are you up to it?" 

"Crawl?" Galladon nodded and Centil said, "All 
right, but can we eat first?" 

"Do you have anything to eat?" 


"Then I guess we can't" 

Centil looked at Galladon, who only shrugged his 
shoulders. "Sorry, Centil, how about a fish?" 


"No, but I'll try to catch one for you tonight," he 
answered smiling. 

"You better try real hard Where's Wolf?" 

"I don't know. She'll find us if she wants to." 

"What do you mean, 'if she wants to'?" 

"She's a wolf, not a dog." 

"I don't understand." 

"You will. Let's go." 

As Centil rose, she looked at Galladon. "How did 
you find Wolf? Will you tell me?" 

"She found me. That's a story to be told around a 
campfire." The two moved quietly away from the trail 
as Galladon tried to invent a believable story on how he 
met Wolf 

The way was even more difficult than Galladon had 
anticipated. Rocky ground rose steeply into ridges with 
peaks that had to be straddled to cross. Their progress 
was no more swift as the two inched down the other side 
of each ridge. Rocks slid beneath their feet and hand- 


Fall 1990 

Galladon, continued 

holds gave way. Everything seemed destined to slide 
down the sides of the ridges, except the trees and grass. 
But the grass was oily with dew and hard to hang on to. 
Knees were bruised and forearms scraped as they climbed 
the ridges and slid down the other sides in a half-tumble. 
After achieving one great ridge and struggling down the 
other side, the two fell into a waist-deep swamp. They 
crossed it only to find another ridge with which to be 
bruised and battered. 

"Someone should build a road," Centil grumbled. 

"They did, around all this. The slavers are making 
much better time than we are." Centil threw grass at 

They didn't stop. They didn't rest. As twilight 
lined the west, they staggered over the final ridge and 
slid-tumbled down to rest on the bank of the Crystal. 

"I want my fish!" 

As Galladon and Centil dropped their gear, he 
looked her over. She was filthy. Covered with grass 
stains and dirt that rolled down her face with each bead of 
sweat. She looked back at him and said again, "I want 
my fish." 

They stood at a bend in the river where the water 
moved slowly in fluid blue crystal. Calm and beautiful, 
it simply flowed without any waves. "I promised you a 
fish and you'll have one, but first I need some bait." 
Suddenly, Centil didn't trust him any more. 

'•What kind of bait?" 

Catapulted from his arms, Centil flew over the lake 
as he laughed, "You." The water was cool. Centil's 
Jiead broke the surface, and she sputtered at him. 

"Sorry. It was too good to pass up. Besides, you 
needed a bath." 

"Go away." 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you mad. I was 
just having fun." All traces of humor were gone from 
his face. 

"I'm not mad, you idiot, I lost my skirt. Now go 

Galladon blushed, apologized again, picked up all 
the gear except Centil's pack, and said, "I'll be down 
where those rocks are, trying to catch your fish. Call 
me if you need me." 

She watched him walk without stumbling down a 
path that would trip a goat and found it very hard to stay 
mad at him. 

Centil had wanted to take a bath until all the dragon 
smell was gone and she felt clean again. After an hour 
of scrubbing and letting the water wash the stink away, 
she climbed out and sat on a rock to dry. Galladon had 
made a fire and was sitting faithfully with his back to 

Wordetter 73 

her doing something. 

Never once during his fishing, firemaking, and hy- 
giene had he turned around to catch a peek at her. Centil 
was relieved. She had finally found someone she could 
trust. At the same time, she was insulted that he hadn't 
stolen even one glance. Did he think she was ugly? 

When the last of the water had evaporated from her 
body, Centil pulled clean clothes from her knapsack, 
how could you tell which was the front of the bloomers 
and which was the back? Was there a difference? Over 
the boomers, she wore an old pair of Galladon 's pants 
with the cuffs rolled up four times and the waist cinched 
down so that fabric was gathered in ripples below her 
ribs. A loose-fitting blouse finished her outfit. She 
walked carefully to the fire. 

"How do I look?" 

"Like a refugee. All I could manage to net was a 
couple of catfish. Is that all right?" 

"Where did you get the net?" 

'Tied my shirt sleeves together." 

"Is it dinner yet?" 


"Good. I'm hungry. Do I really look like a 

"Yes. A pretty, well-dressed refugee. How do you 
like wearing pants?" 

"It feels like someone wrapped my legs up." They 
both laughed and ate and rested without noticing they 
were being watched. 

Karak sat quietly in human form where the two had 
come out of the woods, watching with dragon eyes and 
listening with dragon ears, wondering how Centil had 
managed to best him. He could see her aura glow around 
her. You're not human, he mused. What are you? 

Maria Mellinger 

After A Day of Words 

After a day of words 

Filling up the air 

Like so much 

Soiled laundry 

On the line, 

Your fresh smelling silence 

Is a wind, 

Setting garments and gossip alike 

Into flight 

Fall 1990 



I am like a willow blowing in the wind. 

One of many in a field of thousands. 

Today the sun is shining and a warm 

breeze caresses us all. 

Sadness still fills my heart 

My little willow is strong & bright green, 

fresh with life, hope. 

But now the winds grow stronger, the sky is turning 


I am pushed right and then left... 

Now the rains come.. 

Harder and harder... 

Now I am flattened down onto the very earth itself. 

Here I lie; downtrodden weak and all alone... 

Today is another day and the sun is shining once again. 
Slowly I rise to meet the new 

Shellie Rae Smith 


In a wide green meadow far, far away, 
Where the wild flowers and long grasses gendy sway; 
One day, a little girl met a bold and beautiful unicorn. 
Gleaming radiant white with a twisted golden horn, 
He whinnied high and clear tossing his elegant head. 
Fists on hips, she bit her lip then "Go away!" she said. 
"Everyone knows you do not exist! Go away!" 
The unicorn stood, stared, and decided to stay. 
"Whoever told you that," he said somewhat sharply, 
"Is evidendy wrong, as you can see! I am real as 

"Prove it," she said, "Lest the hot sun has made me 

"You have to believe first," said the unicorn, looking 

She struggled with all she had been taught. "I can't," 

she said. 
A silver tear slid down his cheek as he hung his head. 
"Wait!" deeply moved she cried. "Would it hurt if I 

"Not at all," he brightened. "Would you care for a ride?" 
"One that lasts forever!" she declared. The unicom grins. 
And this is how their adventure begins. 

Sherry Gunderman 

So you're hurt — 
so what? 

Can't you see my scars? 
Just because they're not 
on my arms 
for the world to critique 
doesn't mean 
they don't exist 

So you're lonely — 

who isn't? 

You're the fool 

for preferring 

their lyrical lies 

to my off-key honesty. 

So you're crying — 

big deal. 

I hope the silent pain 

makes you think 

About who loved you... 

and who didn't... 

And may the salt 

from your tears 

fall upon 

your open wounds. 


Maria Mellinger 


Your body is on top of me, 


And I'm motionless beneath you. 

I'm not sure if you notice 

Or not 

My mind, however, is active — 

I have all these thoughts, 

Feelings, something... 

I'm not sure if you notice. 

But I need to get them out 

I need to get you out 

I'm not looking for Mr. Goodbar. 

Mr. Goodnight' s sleep will do just fine. 



Fill 1990 

Carol Spinabella 


You exist out there 

in the day. ..arid the night 

The street you're on, or rather 

every street you're on, 

is your home. 

You only dream of a better life, 

but you don't pursue it 

"Why?" I ask you. 
You thoughtfully push the rusty shopping cart, 
abode for your weather-beaten possessions. 
It squeaks, 

approaching the next receptacle of vitals 
on your recurrent path. 

"Why" I again inquire. 
Your putrefied mouth forms an answer. 
It wafts out with a foul odor. 

"Independence," you exclaim. 

"Ah, yes, human dignity," I thought. 

I was beginning to understand 

Suddenly, you are distracted. 

A mannequin in a store window draws your attention. 

"Good afternoon, Betty," 

you cordially address the dummy. 

"I like your new outfit! Do you like my new 

you query, holding up your shabbily-clad fingers. 

"Why, thank you! I'll see you tomorrow," 

you vacuously respond. 

Then, I fully understand. 

Barbara Pillasch 


the sun painted a pastel sky 
stained the rambling river 
bid queen anne's lace a gay morn 
unfolded the butterfly 

Sherry Gunderman 


This child 

is ready. To taste your world — 
To breathe your air. 
To hear your visions. 
To touch the reality. 

will loosen her morals 
and her bra — 
to feel you again. 
What more sacrifices 
are you asking? 
Quit running- 
pulling the teasing toy 
behind you on a string...'s no use. 

I don't think you know her at all. 
Haven't you heard her voice., 
all these months? 
Why won't you listen? 
She adores you... 
but she doesn't own a cage... 
and relationships 
seem to wither and die — 
in this season of plenty. 
this temple 
to this litde child — 
as a solemn 

Because your spirits and beings 
will fade away — 
as the fireflies always do — 
when the days grow shorter. 

Maria Mellinger 


I'm going to slouch as much as possible, 

Shove my hands deep into my pockets, 

Study my feet as they shuffle down the hallway, 

Bite my lip to keep my words inside, 

And hide 

From your hello. 



Fill 1990 

Joey McGrath 

(To Be Sung With A Blues Riff) 

1 . I woke up this mornin' 
I was feelin* quite blue 
On my bedroom floor 
Was a lump of cat doo 

2. I killed that dumb cat 
Was its last mistake 
Now it's dead and buried 
Has become worm bait 

3. Got into my car 
To buy a dog pup 
Didn't get very far 

I smashed my car up 

4 . Ain ' t got no insurance 
Ain't got no more car 
Can't get the dog pup 
Can't walk that far 

5. When I got home 
Found out I was robbed 
My boss called me up 
Said E lost my job 

6. Ain't got no money 
Ain't got no dough 
I think I'll go rob 
A liquor sto' 

7. But I couldn't do that 
I know I'd get caught 
Get thrown into prison 
Until I would rot 

8. Then my girl left me 
For another young man 
Said he was better 
Than any man she had 

9. Ain't got no girl 
Ain't got no home 
Ain't got no pet 
So I'm all alone 

10. I climbed on the roof 
Said "Heaven's better!" 

I jumped off the edge 
And went for a header 

11. When I hit the ground 
I thought I was dead 
The only thing I did 
Was fracture my head 

12. In a hospital bed 
Is where I lay 
With a big fat bill 
I know I can't pay 


Maria Mellinger 

There was a time when your body 

was like ice tea on an 80° day, 

sitting at the edge of the water 

with our toes touching 

A protective glove cast out to the waves 

When a stray whistle washed to the shore 

And now you feel like 

Sunburn on the back of my knees. 

Connie Legters 


I saw him today. 

He didn't see me but it was enough. 

We passed on the street. 

His eyes were on a window, 

not looking into mine 

looking into his. 

He didn't see my joy 

or my pain. 

I should have said hello, 

and passed the time 

to hold him with me for a while. 

I wish now for more than I received 

as two people passed, 

one looking 

at the other unaware. 

But I did see him today. 



F«U 1990 

Bob Loewe 



is a fickle lover. 

She'll embrace you 

as you lie in sunshine 

or camp in snow 

far from anyone 

far from any 


The harsh glare 


causes her to flee 

and find refuge 

in a vacationing mine 

without glare, or pens, 

or deadlines. 

She'll return sometime 

when the vacationing mind 

has deadlines — 

when you don'L 

Embrace her while you can. 

Maria Mellinger 


Years of typical American dinners 

He sat through with her, 

Conversations about kids over grocery bargains, 

Declarations of lover over the occasional exotic dessert- 

Probably bought on a whim 

Or discovered in the damage bin; 

Until last night. 

After a full-course Chinese meal he said goodbye. 

To wonton soup, eggroll, etc. 

To give him a taste for the world. 

fed flames gave was limited only to the imagination. 
For now, however, everyone's attention was given to the 
scoutmaster, while he told amazing facts about the uni- 
verse and of frightening events during his career as a po- 
lice officer in Georgetown, Colorado. 

Once he had discovered a moss-covered body deep 
inside an abandoned gold mine. The body had been there 
for quite some time, but had been partially preserved in- 
side the cool tunnel. It was believed to be Anna Taylor, a 
girl who died of pneumonia in her bedroom, now room 
#3. At eleven-thirty, Anna walked halfway down the 
stairs and disappeared... 

Matt listened deeply, staring into the campfire. His 
mind began to wander. It had been a long hike today. 
He figured they were at least thirty miles from any town 
or house. Thirty miles of rugged San Juan mountains. 
Matt gradually tuned out the scoutmaster's voice. He 
began to think about life, memories, people, the incom- 
prehensible vastness of the universe. He began to think 
of the miners that once roamed these mountains. And 
the Indians before them. 

Suddenly, a cold chill ran down his back and jolted 
Matt back to earth. No one was talking anymore. He 
looked up at his scoutmaster, but he was not there. No 
one else was sitting around the campfire. Matt jumped 
to his feet and tried to peer deep into the darkness. He 
could see no one. After his eyes adjusted to the dark, he 
could still see no one. Suspecting a joke, Matt walked 
up the path to where his troop's seven tents had been put 
up. The area was bare of anything but untouched grass 
and sagebrush. He couldn't see anyone or hear anyone. 
In fact, he couldn't hear anything. The night was com- 
pletely quiet. The darkness said nothing. 

Matt ran back down the path to the campfire circle. 
The fire was gone. Its light no longer held the darkness 
back. Matt stared at the ring of rocks. Grass grew out 
of the center. He was alone. 

It started to rain. 


Connie Legters 

Chad Elmore 


The rain stopped soon after it began. A heavy dark- 
ness replaced the downpour, a darkness that seemed to 
trap the seventeen boys and adults around the campfire. 
What the darkness concealed beyond the light the pine- 


What the hell was she doing? The man Conine 
held was not her own. This man had the slim-boy build 
of her young son. The sharpness of his shoulder blades 
repelled the woman, and she rolled away. 

Presently the man sat up, dropping his feet lightly 
to the floor. The flash of neon filtered in through the 
curtained window. 


12 Ftll 1990 

The Neon Motel, continued 

"Well, I'll be going now," he said as he fumbled 
with his clothes. The woman said nothing. 

"Look, lady," he asked, "are you all right?" 

Conine moved back to face the man, and waved 
him away. 

"Go along," she said. 

The man fed his belt though denim loops and puz- 
zled over what to say now. What the hell was he sup- 
posed to say? "Look, we could have breakfast?" he ques- 
tioned as he slipped into his leather jacket. 

"No, please just go," she turned back to the wall. 
"It's all right." 

The door closed with a sharp click, and Conine rose 
to the window to watch him leave. His youthful stride 
was casual in assured masculinity freshly proven. As he 
walked, he combed his hands through his blonde hair. 
He did not look back, but mounted the black motorcycle, 
kicked it once, and roared away. The sound echoed off 
the concrete motel units, disappearing fast as if to catch 
the rider. Lighting a cigarette, Conine sat looking out 
into the neon-lit parking lot 

What the hell was she doing? The solution to her 
unhappiness could not be found in a stranger's arms. 
Once he was now...she was left yet without 
the answer. At home, her husband and two children 
slept, unaware of her unrest or transgressions. 

The shower was taken in the ritual semi-neon dark- 
ness. The woman dressed slowly, methodically, her legs 
feeling wooden and alienated from her body. The neon 
light blinked outside. 

For a time, passion brought full light to the darkest 
corners of a motel room but like neon strobe, the bril- 
liance of stolen warmth comes and goes. 

When Conine clicked the motel door behind, she 
carried away the red plastic key. "Well," she thought, 
"some people collect stamps." The wry thought brought 
a smile to her mouth as she drove away from the Neon 
Motel, and headed home. 

Sherry Gunderman 


I cried 

these daisy petals 

under the weeping willow 

in the hammock 

of my sane-ness. 

I toyed with a swing 


at the park 


I almost believed 

that if I had kicked out my foot 

I would have bruised the sun. 

The rust 

on the chains 

only made me think of you — ■ 

our night on the rusty swing 

will haunt me forever. 

I wrote poetry 

under the weeping willow 

in the hammock 

of my sane-ness 

for you. 


June Johnson 


Melpomene's woeful dirges 
Leave me flat I get no urges 
To write that kind of sober stuff 
I'd have to be a total cluck 

Calliope fills the books of sages 
Strings it out for years and ages 
It's so long I'm bored for pages 

Erato speaks with hardy thrust 
Love and yearning even lust 
With all of these I'm a bit old fashion 
I like to think we control the action 

Thalia is the muse for me 
Spritely, lightly, fancy free 
Comic verse for me about 
I guess I'll always be a clown 

Holly Bruns 


Eleanor had been holding her husband's hand for so 
long that her own had long since lost that feeling of 
thousands of needles being stuck into it and now it was 
just plain numb. She sat looking at their hands en- 
twined and thoughts sauntered around in her head, some- 
times energetic and clear, other times lazy and fuzzy. 


13 Fill 1990 

Unnoticed, continued 

At this moment, however, she concentrated on their 
hands. Hers was small, wrinkled, white, and soft. They 
were speckled with various sized age spots. His hand 
was also wrinkled but much darker and rough, and his 
fingers were twisted into contorted shapes by many 
decades of hard work and several years of painful arthri- 
tis. The clasped hands trembled in a palsied manner. 
Eleanor wasn't sure if it was her hand causing the trem- 
bling or Amos' hand. At that lucid moment she smiled 
and wished that they had had their coupled hands pho- 
tographed every ten years since they were married so that 
she could compare what they looked like through the 
various stages of their marriage. She remembered a pic- 
ture she had seen not long ago of two left hands on a 
Bible with shiny new wedding rings flashing an an- 
nouncement. When they had married sixty-eight years 
ago, photographs of hands were not a common thing. 

"Amos, do you remember what our hands looked 
like when we were first married?" she asked him. 

"Click, whir, click, whir..." was the response she 

"Can you remember if they took photographs of 
hands in 1924? Was it 1924 or 1922? Never mind. It 
was 1922. 1924 was the year Justine was born." 

"Click, whir, click, whir..." an even, rhythmic re- 

In the calm, dimly lit room, Eleanor began to 
scream. "AMOS! AMOS! Wake up, Amos! Justine 
isn't breathing! Amos, get up! I can't get Justine to 
breathe! Oh god, help me. Justine, please breathe! Can 
somebody help me? Please?" 

"Mrs. Brown, are you okay? What's wrong, Mrs. 

Two nurses stood looking down at the fragile Mrs. 
Brown holding onto the cherished hand and moaning in 
urgent sobs. Eleanor's hallucination then broke. She 
felt extreme embarrassment but couldn't think of an ex- 
cuse to cover her blunder. Justine, their only child, had 
been dead for nearly sixty-five years. 

"Oh. I apologize for disturbing you girls. I know 
you don't need me to make more work for you. I was 
just having a bad dream, I guess." She hoped they 
would go away. 

Her comment seemed to appease them. Their star- 
tled looks subsided. They gave Amos a quick assess- 
ment and left the room. 

"Eleanor, Eleanor," she said in a whisper to herself. 
"Look at what is happening to you. You had better 
mind your P's and Q's or these people will make you 
leave the room. 

So far, she had been allowed to sit quietly at the 


bedside, even though the visitation policy here didn't 
normally allow for that. TWO FAMILY MEMBERS 
HOUR, ON THE HOUR, was the posted sign outside 
the intensive care unit doors. The first day that Amos 
had been here, Eleanor was nervous and quite shaken. 
All the machines and noises and scurrying about nearly 
panicked her so that she asked dozens of questions each 
time a nurse of doctor came into the room to look at 
Amos. The staff only tolerated that for a very shorty 
time before sending her into the waiting room after each 
of her five minute visits. She sat there for almost eigh- 
teen hours that first day breathing in smoke and trying to 
tune out the terrible language that those vulgar young 
people were using. They were some kind of dirty trash, 
she remembered, dressed in black leather with silver but- 
tons and chains and long dirty hair. They kept using the 
"F' word and talking about how they were going to get 
even with the "pig" that shot their friend. 

During her cab ride home late that night she had 
tried to think of some way to persuade the nurses to let 
her be with Amos more often. He wasn't used to spend- 
ing so much time alone. He needed her there to make 
him more comfortable and she knew he would be dis- 
tressed if he knew she were sitting in that waiting room 
breathing in that dreadful smoke and hearing that word 
they were using. It was so deplorable it made her skin 
crawl. In her day mat word was NEVER used in mixed 
company, let alone a public place. Why did they have to 
use it so much? It meant sex to the riffraff of society, 
ladies and gentlemen of her generation did not discuss 
sexual matters even in the most respectable manner. It 
was a private subject One kept such matters to oneself. 

When she had gone in for her five minute visit the 
following morning, she had had one of those spells she 
had been experiencing lately. She didn't know what else 
to call the experience but a "spell." One minute she 
would be in the middle of some thought or activity and 
the next minute she would look up at the clock and two 
or three hours would have passed. She wouldn't remem- 
ber anything about the previous hours, what she had 
been doing or thinking, if anything. The spells caused 
her to feel quite nervous for days after she experienced 
one,. But on the day she had had the spell in Amos' 
hospital room, nobody had asked her to leave until she 
snapped out of it and starting in with the questions 
again. It dawned on her later that afternoon, during an 
unmuddled moment, that it might pay to just keep quiet 
and see what they would do. It worked. They let her 
stay as long as she was silent She was much relieved 
to be aSle to spend her days next to Amos. She would 
have to be careful not to create another disturbance so 



Fill 1990 

Unnoticed, continued 

that she wouldn't have to go out again. 

Nobody seemed to want to tell her anything. A 
few days ago Amos was up and talking, helping her with 
breakfast, pulling weeds from the garden. She had gone 
outside to talk with him after she had finished the morn- 
ing dishes and found him face down in the dirt She 
turned him over and realized that his breathing was irreg- 
ular and slow. When she had shouted for help, nobody 
heard her and she had to stumble back through the grass 
to call an ambulance. 

She was barely able to walk without losing her bal- 
ance so running was out of the question, and it seemed 
to take hours to get to the phone. When she got there 
she misdialed the phone number twice before she finally 
reached the paramedics. When they asked for her address 
she had to stop for a time to remember. 

By the time she got back out to Amos she could 
hear sirens and wasn't sure how long he had been alone 
like that. Then she had one of her spells and couldn't re- 
member what happened. 

She awoke sitting in the waiting room outside of 
Intensive Care. A young doctor was talking to her about 
some machine helping Amos breathe. That was all she 
heard before he led her into the room where she was 
greeted with the fright of her life. It looked as if they 
were turning Amos into a robot with all the things they 
had hooked to him. 

After several days, though, she had grown accus- 
tomed to the machinery and felt some comfort in know- 
ing it helped to keep Amos alive. The familiar "click, 
whir" noise was almost like the old clock on the fire- 
place mantel and had an oddly calming effect. 

Again her attention was reverted to their hands. 
How much longer would she be able to hold Amos' 
hand? She was beginning to feel a cramp in her arm and 
wanted to draw her arm away from Amos and back to her 
own body. She was dying to rub the cramp out. "He's 
asleep," she told herself. "He won't even know I let 
go." No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than 
Amos gave a little squeeze with his hand. With that, 
Eleanor was determined to tolerate a little cramp. 
Several minutes later that same squeeze and suddenly 
Eleanor was lost in another time cloud, the tiniest little 
smile adorning her face. 

She could feel his heavy warm breathing in her hair 
and on the side of her neck. She could feel his warm un- 
dressed body beginning to perspire. She knew it was 
shameful, but she rather enjoyed this sensation. She had 
this overwhelming desire to mover her own body in a 
complimentary fashion to the movement he was making 
and made a conscious effort not to give in to her desires 


lest he would lose respect for her. At the peak of this 
sensual encounter with her husband, he would reach for 
her hands and hold them both in his hands and give a 
quick, firm squeeze. She knew that the erotic encounter 
was, at that point, nearly over. Once she felt that 
squeeze she knew what came next He would moan soft- 
ly into her neck and whisper something incomprehensi- 

It was the same every time. When she was much 
younger she nearly asked him what it was that he whis- 
pered at that moment, but for some reason she lost the 
nerve. As she got older she decided that it didn't matter 
what he whispered, as long as he whispered it to her. 
Still, it piqued her curiosity on rare occasions. 
Sometimes her undisciplined imagination would run 
away with itself and she would be imagining things he 
might have been saying. It was awful and she tried to 
stop herself from being so unrefined in her thinking, but 
she would sneak pleasure and guilt in equal amounts 
from this fantasy and most times she would let it run its 
course. She always felt bad after she regained her com- 
posure and swore to herself that she wouldn't be weak 
the next time. She never mentioned this particular sin 
in her prayers. 

She felt another squeeze and her elusive time cloud 
evaporated and she was back at her husband's bedside 
with the "click" and the "whir." The smile was still on 
her face. She felt it there and she forced it away in an in- 

She became mesmerized by the "click" and the 
"whir" and within a few minutes her chin had dropped 
onto her chest and tilted to the side a little. Her gentle 
sleeping face was a beautiful sight to behold. If Amos 
could have seen it he would have made a mental note 
never to forget her in that peaceful moment But the 
moment slipped away unnoticed to anyone and when 
Eleanor awoke she found that she had drooled on her silk 
blouse and was disgusted but glad that nobody was there 
to see what she had done. Her hand was still connected 
to the hand she adored but the grasp has loosened and the 
cramp in her arm was gone. 

Two nurses and a doctor entered the room and asked 
Eleanor to step out into the waiting room. There 
seemed to be an urgent tone in the way they spoke and 
Eleanor quickly obeyed the command giving Amos a 
quick squeeze of the hand and letting go. Just as she 
walked out another nurse came scrambling in pushing a 
big red metal cart "They certainly are making a com- 
motion! If they wanted me to leave now, they only 
needed to say so." 

She made her way to the cafeteria remembering that 
she hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch and it was nearly time 


15 Fill 1990 

Unnoticed, continued 

for supper. She didn't have much of an appetite, but a 
cup of tea and a piece of warm apple pie appealed to her 
as she nudged her orange plastic tray down the counter. 
She had to fish around for her change purse and could 
hear someone clicking their tongue with impatience. 

"Never mind these young rude people," she thought 
to herself. "They just don't have any manners these 
days." To the dark-eyed girl at the checkout register she 
smiled and said, "That's a lovely jacket You look really 
beautiful in that color." 

The girl returned the smile and watched Eleanor 
fumble with the tray and shuffle toward a table, side- 
stepping invisible objects on the floor. The girl took 
the keys from her jacket pocket, locked the register, and 
quickly stepped to Eleanor's side to aid her with the tray. 
She knew that the people waiting back at the register 
would be unpleasant to deal with when she got back, but 
she couldn't bear to see the old lady so helpless. She 
helped Eleanor sit in her chair, removed the tea, pie, and 
tableware, and took the tray away as quickly as possible. 

The tongue-clicker waiting at the register noticed a 
slight smile on the old lady's lips. He made a secret 
wish that she would burn her tongue on her tea. 

Eleanor must have had another spell because when 
she came around, she clearly recognized that she was in a 
dark cab. She begged the driver's pardon and asked him 
to repeat what he had said. 

"Jesus, lady. How many times do I gotta ask the 
same question? What's yer address...What's yer ad- 
dress.. .What's yer address? Did ya hear me that time?" 

"You don't have to take that tone with me, young 
man. I can hear you perfectly well. I live at 508 Pine 
Street A white house with black shutters. There's a 
white birch in the front lawn." She said this with confi- 
dence and shook her head, not believing how many dis- 
courteous people she had met in these last few days. 

At home her thoughts were unclouded and she felt 
relaxed. She washed herself at the bathroom sink. She 
didn't bathe in the tub. Getting in and out was too dan- 
gerous. She looked at herself in the mirror while she 
brushed her teeth. 'Time to see the hairdresser," she 
thought "I hope Amos gets better in a hurry. I can't 
go about taking cabs forever." She tidied up the house a 
bit then read a few verses from Job before she drifted into 

Up bright and early the next morning sipping tea, 
she heard the cab, took her cup to the sink and rinsed it 
in warm water and turned it upside down in the dish 
drainer. She picked out a coat and briefly admired herself 
in the mirror on the closet door. She returned to the 
kitchen for her pocketbook and struggled with the bolt 


lock on the front door and finally made her way to the 

The driver waited patiently for her and opened the 
door as she approached. He took her little wrinkled hand 
and helped her gently into the back seat 

"Good morning, Eleanor," he said smiling at her 
from the rear view mirror. He continued to watch her, 
waiting for her response. 

A few seconds later the communication made its 
mark somewhere in her brain and she responded. "Good 
morning, Jerome." She looked out the window not 
noticing his glance at her. "How are your wife and those 
grandchildren you're always talking about?" she said ab- 

"Same as always, Mrs. Brown. Same as always." 
The remainder of the ride was silent until he opened the 
door for her at the entrance to the hospital. 

"I'll be back around eight o'clock, Mrs. Brown. 
Sorry I wasn't here for you last night but my wife and I 
had to go to my brand baby's first birthday party. I 
guess you musta made it home okay without me, 
though." He held her arm as he spoke to her and guided 
her slowly to the lobby door. 

"Yes, Jerome. How much do I owe you? I sure 
wish Amos would hurry up and get out of this hospital. 
I can't go around taking cabs forever now, can I?" She 
shifted her pocketbook to her other arm and waited for 
him to open the door. 

"Don't you worry, Mrs. Brown. Everything will 
be just fine. You just don't worry about the bill. Amos 
will pay the bill when he gets home." He watched her 
start through the lobby and shook his head with per- 
plexed smile. When he got back into his cab he smiled 
at the statue of Jesus on his dashboard and whispered a 
silent prayer. "Man..I hope yer watchin 8 this..." 

Eleanor arrived at the intensive care unit a few min- 
utes before the hour and had to wait outside until the 
doors were opened and the waiting crowd was admitted. 
The group pushed past her, and she walked in slowly, 
staying close to the wall in case she lost her balance. 
As she passed each door to a room, she listened for the 
"click" and the "whir" which indicated that she had found 
her Amos. She passed four doors and heard nothing. A 
nurse approached her suspiciously. 

"Can I help you? Do you have a family member 
here?" she asked. 

"I'm looking for Amos. He was in this room right 
here yesterday." Eleanor pointed to the door she was 
standing in front of. The room was empty. 

Another nurse approached with a smile and offered a 
cheerful, "Hello, Mrs. Brown. How are you this morn- 
ing? Are you looking for Amos?" 



Fill 1990 

Malinda Holiday 

Unnoticed, continued 


"Good morning, Theresa. Of course I'm looking 
for Amos. Where have you put him this time? Who is 
this girl?" she asked pointing to the nurse who had first 
approached her. 

"She's one of our new nurses, Mrs. Brown. Her 
name is Joan. We've moved Amos to this room over 

She took Mrs. Brown across the open nurse's sta- 
tion to a room on the far end of the unit As they ap- 
proached the room a familiar mechanical sound drifted 
through the door and Mrs. Brown entered the room with 
a quiet sigh of relief. A chair was next to the head of the 
bed away from the breathing machine and the I.V. poles, 
and Mrs. Brown sat down quietly, determined not to 
cause a fuss so she could spend the day with Amos. 

Theresa walked back across the nurse's station to 
where Joan stood watching with curiosity and jabbed her 
with an elbow. 

"What the hell was that about?" Joan asked jabbing 
Theresa back. 

"Mrs. Brown has been coming here every day for 
almost two years. She comes every day like clock work 
to hold her dear old Amos' hand, but Amos died two 
Decembers ago. When we told her he was dead she went 
home but she came back the next day looking for him. 
She headed straight for a room with a ventilator. She 
said she knew it was her Amos because she could tell by 
the sound of his breathing machine. It just so happened 
that the patient was a JOHN DOE who had been hit by a 
bus the night Amos died and he was hooked to a ventila- 
tor. She went in the room and held his hand just like 
she had done with her husband, and I swear to God she 
didn't notice the difference. The supervisor said as long 
as Eleanor didn't get in the way we might as well let her 
hand around for JOHN DOE's sake. Nobody ever 
claimed him and we had another JOHN DOE or JANE 
DOE when that one died. You know how it is at inner 
city hospitals like this." 

Joan smiled and nodded her head. 

Eleanor looked at their hands entwined and thoughts 
sauntered around in her head, sometimes energetic and 
clear, other times lazy and fuzzy. Her hand was small, 
wrinkled, white, and soft His was also wrinkled but 
much darker, almost black. When Eleanor gave the hand 
a little squeeze, the hand squeezed back and a glazed look 
appeared in her eyes. After a moment she smiled. 

I hate to see you down, 

You were hoping she'd stay around, 

Maybe she'll be different you said, 

I always had my doubts about her, 

I couldn't stand to see you with another, 

So I tried to put it out of my head, 

I wish I hadn't closed my eyes 

I knew I should have warned you then, 

Her leaving comes as no surprise, 

Now your hurting comes not to an end, 

The sun seems hidden, 

The sky's so gray, 

I wish I could wipe your tears away, 

The birds don't sing, 

The grass isn't green, 

I wish there was something I could say, 

I can't stop the rain from falling, 

Sometimes it will cloud up your sunny day, 

I wish I could feel the pain for you, 

But there's no way, 

I can't stop the tears from flowing, 

I can't shield you from all hurt and dismay, 

If I could pay that price for you 

I'd pay. 

Lora Baker 


Sleep, sleep, oh glorious sleep 

How I wish I could forever keep 

the wonderful feelings 

the beautiful dreamings 

that you sprinkle over me. 

A lilac baboon, 

A teal lagoon, 

A pink, pink sea 

colors of the prettiest hues 

in a world where all I see 

are blues. 


Wordciter 73 


Fall 1990 

Bob Loewe 


First Man: Hi, Honey. I'm home. 
First Woman: (dressed in negligee) Hi, Honey. How 
was your day? 

(See camera script for angles for next 15 minutes of 

First Woman: That was great. Do you want something 
to drink? 

First Man: Please. 

(First Woman rings a bell and a maid enters. See camera 
script for next 15 minutes.) 
First Man: God! I'm late for my bridge game. 
(First Man leaves. First Woman and Maid stay. See 
camera script for next 15 minutes.) 
Butler enters. 

(See camera script for next 15 minutes.) 
First Woman leaves. 
(See camera script for next 15 minutes.) 
First Man reenters. 

(See camera script for next 15 minutes.) 

Maria Mellinger 


Excuse me, 

but I think this 


fell out of your bag 

when you unpacked. 

We didn't notice it, then, 

because it was kicked 

under my bed, 

and we had little use for it 

when we were together. 

But now, 

I believe, 

out of confusion over separation, 

you packed my pleasant disposition 

with your socks 

and left me this 


Sherrry Gunderman 


In a breathy fragment 

Of poetry 

I promise to you 

my soul — 

if you would only let me be the one. 

You wish for 

dream of 

and adore. 

I don't want love 

And I don't expect forever. 

Guarantees lie 

more often than not 

But I want the moment. 

I want now. 

Ode to kisses in the rain 

Up-blessed eyelids 

and tainted souls 

crying out in their own personal misery 

for a love lost 

and time gained. 

Let me caress your heart 

distract the pain 

and heal the wounds 

with feather-soft fingers. 

God! It would be so easy 

to love you madly. 
Oh the pain! Of restraining my heart 

with long-roped lassos. 
The indifference 

hurts more than goodbye ever could. 
Let me. 

Let me be the one 
to rescue your being 
from the dangling torture 
over the pits 

of emotional voidness and lovers hell. 
I want to save you. 

Wordctter 73 


Fill 1990 

Julie Haggerty 


I used to count the days 
waiting for you to come home 
now that anxious time as passed 
I guess our hearts have too 

I wonder though how it will be 
when I'm out on the deck 
will you come to see me? 
to just said hi — with a smile? 

When it's morning and I'm a mess 
will you say it's okay 
I don't have to impress 
you care about me as I am? 

When it's dark and I look for the stars 

will you come join me? 

and tell me stories 

about the mythological lovers 

when I am sad and down 
will you play the clown? 
and make believe 
how great it can be 

or, will you look away 
as I see you walking 
to your stone house next door 
having nothing to say? 

Jeff Graves 


you came alone and left alone 

your days are numbered 

but in the millions 

your warmth is the love of my day 

your darkness is a sweet sensual world 

gift wrapped in oblivion 

please stay for another million 

or just the night. 

Wordewer 73 

Joey McGrath 

Explosion In Reality 

After school let out, Larry and Johnny caught up 
with me in front of the school entrance. 

"Jeez, you didn't have to wait so long for us. You 
took off like you were on fire," said Larry. 

"Can you blame me?" 

We walked on in silence for a little while until we 
saw something that caught our attention. We saw a cou- 
ple of red packets lying in the middle of the road. 

"Can you see what they are?" asked Johnny. 


We shuffled over to the things in the road and al- 
most did backflips when we saw what they were. 

"Firecrackers!" we shouted. 

"Aw, man! I never played with firecrackers before. 
My ma and dad won't let me," Johnny said. 

"There's three packages here," I said as I bounced a 
pack in my hand. 

"That' s thirty-six ! " said Larry. \ 

He was still on a high from answering a few ques- 
tions in math class. He now considered himself a 
human calculator. 

"Anybody know where we can get a lighter?" I 

"Nobody in my house smokes or anything," said 

"My dad smokes a pipe," offered Johnny. 

"Do you know where he keeps the matches?" 

"Yeah, sure." 

"Do you think you'll be able to sneak them out 
without your ma noticin?" I asked. 

"Aw, sure. It'll be easy." 

'Then what are we waiting for?' Larry said. 

We took off running for Johnny's house. When we 
arrived at his door, we were out of breath and having 
mild heart attacks. To make it less obvious, we waited 
until we caught our breath before going inside. The in- 
side of his house looked like something out of a Cleaner 
Homes and Neatness Magazine. Larry and I stared at 
each other in awe. We dared not touch anything in fear 
of getting it dirty. The whiteness of it all hurt our eyes. 

"And who are these adorable little children?" said a 
loud, excited voice. We turned to see a large rosy- 
cheeked woman in an apron run towards us. She stopped 
and pinched our cheeks until the blood stopped flowing. 
She let go of our cheeks and the tingling feeling of sen- 
sation erept back in my cheeks. God, what a grip. She 
showered Johnny with kisses until he was beet red with 


19 Fill 1990 

Coming of Age, continued 


"Mom!" Johnny said as he tried squirming away. 

"Ooh, you're so cute when you get mad!" She at- 
tacked him with another barrage of kisses. He turned a 
deeper shade of red. "How about some cookies and 
milk? Huh?" 

She turned on her heels and opened the cupboards 
above her head. She pulled out a large glass container 
with cookies in it "Now everybody go and sit down at 
the table. I'll be there in a second with the cookies and 

We weren't able to even squeak out a word before 
we were scooted to the large oak table. Johnny sat at the 
head of the table while Larry and I sat at the sides of 

Larry leaned in close. "You looked depressed, 
Johnny. You want a kiss?" 

"Aw, man. If my ma wasn't here, I'd biff you right 
in the face." 

His mother returned with a huge platter of cookies. 
There must've been a hundred cookies on the platter. 
She set three tall glasses of milk in front of us. Larry 
grabbed a cookie and took a bite out of it. A droll ex- 
pression came over his face as he slowly chewed on his 
bits of cookie. 

"I hope you like them. They're my own recipe. 
Peanut butter chocolate chip butterscotch oatmeal cook- 
ies. It's a family recipe. Enjoy, because I don't want to 
see one cookie left on that plate when you leave." She 
turned and left us alone in the kitchen. 

"What's the matter?" I asked. 

"No offense, Johnny, but these suck," Larry said. 

"I know. She pushes them on everyone," Johnny 

"They can't be that bad." I grabbed a cookie from 
the platter. I took a huge bite. Then my mouth explod- 
ed in a blast of unwelcome taste. My tastebuds screamed 
once, then fell dead. "Oomph," was all I was able to get 

out before lockjaw set in. 


It was a half hour before we were able to escape the 
clutches of Mary Poppins. After multiple trips to the 
washroom with pockets full of cookies, we were done. 
She didn't suspect a thing. It didn't take a minute for 
Johnny to get hold of the lighter. 

Now we had to decide where to light the firecrack- 
ers. We went to Larry's house. His mother and father 
both worked until five. We sat down on the porch steps 
in his back yard. I unraveled the first pack. Larry took 
the lighter and a firecracker and walked to the center of 
the backyard. He lit the firecracker and tossed it away. 

Wordeater 73 20 

It exploded with a loud 'crack" that echoes through the 

"Jeez!" said Johnny. 

Then Larry grabbed the next cracker. Little did he 
know it was a "fizzbanger." 

FIZZ-BANG-ER (fiz bang' ur), n., 1. a firecracker 
that explodes no sooner than it is lighted. 2. one 
that fizzbangs. 

He touched the flame to the fuse and a millisecond 
later it blew up with a surprisingly loud 'bang'. Larry's 
heart flew out of his mouth and flipped around in the dirt 
before it went back to its original position. He had 
black powder on his nose and cheeks. He would have 
screamed, but he didn't have time to. 

Then Johnny and tossed him our shares of the fire- 
crackers. "Here, you can have mine," we both said in 

Maria Mellinger 

He left her. 

After years of shaping her — molding her — he left. 

He made her beautiful. 

He gave her music, poetry, museums. 

He taught her. 

He wanted her to hear the sound of the wind at mignight. 

He wanted her to be happy. 

He tried to show her how. 

And then he left her. 

She was hurt, but she recovered... 
By lying, 

Showing the other boys what she had learned- 
He died. 
And this is her revenge. 

Fall 1990 

Sherry Gunderman 



Are blurring my memory. 

Did I ever love you? 

I know I wanted you — 

Who didn't? 

But was there more? 

I've convinced myself 
of several occasions 
that we've kissed... 
was that real? 

Or just my imagination... 
charged to abandon — 
fired with too many soap operas... 
And too little reality. 

Yet even Imagination 
couldn't create 
the mirage of May. 

The kisses 

the poetry 

the cigarettes 

and whispers in the dark. 

Even the drunken state 
wears off in the end... 
And I am left 
questioning your memory 

to complete my own. 

Was it mutual? 
Oh — dashing 
daydream delight.. 

Even for one star-filled moment... 
Did we happen? 



The afternoon sighs, 

exhales across my fingers 

raised to touch the sunlight 

in your hair. 

We are mad, 

lying in the grass naked 

temporarily oblivious to danger 

conscious only of skin 



I look at you 

looking at me 

not a certain something 

in your eyes — 

you give it, specially, 

to me. 

How wonderful, 


Sherrry Gunderman 


I won't share. 


And yet 

your kindred spirit guides me 

to Narnia... 


and beyond. 

Our path 

is lanterned 

by a red moon. 

And I sing to you: 

(although we are apart) 

"I could not escape 

a plea from the heart" 
And I cry to you: 
(although you cannot hear) 
"Does it all mean nothing?" 
And I worry myself 
that I am not enough, 
or have enough, 
to ransom your soul. 


Wordeater 73 



Robert Franklin 

Bob Loewe 




I have nothing to say 
No words 
No thoughts 


I have no message 
No lesson 
No dream 


I have no pain 
No anguish 
No tears 


I have no reason 
No motive 
No caring 


I have become oblivious 
No emotions remain 
No cycles 


I am dead 


Jeffrey Michael B 

You! Seekers of public approval- 
Sympathy, Empathy, 
Players of fear- 
Receive my apathy 
A sorry lot (here among me) 
To capitalize on exploitation: 

The trite, but not-so-true 
How dreary you are! 


I watched her long red hair swing 

back and forth across her back 

as she moved away from me 

She carried a suitcase packed 

She carried one suitcase packed 

with all her love 

she turned, looked back and 

went on without noticing the 

hole in the chest where her love 

had been kept 

I wanted to call her back but 

the words caught in my throat 

and when the words finally did flow 

I couldn't tell if she had heard me or not 

She continued on 

I closed my eyes and cried 

the wind blew and I opened my eyes again 

and at my feet lay my love for her 

Returned, opened and slightly used 

but the greater part was untouched 

and obviously unseen 

I looked up 

She was almost out of sight 

and she continued forward 

but then I noticed that everything was moving forward 

the trees and flowers 

the birds, the insects that buzzed about me 

and I realized that I was moving backward away from her 

and by the time I looked up again 

she was gone 

or was it who was gone 

moving away from her 

while she waited 


Maria Mellinger 


The most ordinary 
Of possessions 
Become treasures 
When the hands that 
Used them in life 
Are wrapped around 
A rosary . 



Fill 1990 

Sherry Gunderman 


While my body sat in 
the restaurant booth 
pensively — 
my mind danced 
in erratic circles 
under the streetlights 
& through the rainbow 
watery-oil splotches 
of the parking lot 
across the way. 

My heart clapped 

of my flighty mind 
that evaded the future 
and thought only 
of you 

under the fluorescent streetlights 
in the parking lot 
across the way. 

Maria Mellinger 


Under a painted wooden sign that read Mr. Sanders 
and a second sign near the bell pull that read Ring Also 
sat Winnie-the-Pooh, counting his many honey jars. 

'Twelve," said Pooh. 

"A dozen," said Own, who was watching from a 
tree branch being helpful. 

"No," said Pooh, "I'm sure it was twelve. 
'Adduzen' is much more than twelve, I think." 
"One dozen. Pooh Bear," said Owl, "is a common alge- 
braic expression for twelve." 

"Algebraic effieshen?" 

"Quite right. For the quantity of twelve," said 

"Quamininy of twelve?" 

"Exactly. Aren't you familiar with mathematics, 
Pooh?" asked Owl. 

"No," answered Pooh. "What sort of animal is 

The wind whooshed past Pooh's tummy, reminding 
him he was hungry, as Owl flew down to his side. 


"Mathematics," said Owl, "is not a sort of animal. It is 
a concept" 

"Sorry, what's a concept?" asked Pooh, being a bear 
of very little brain. 

"It's of no importance what exactly a concept is, 
Pooh," explained Owl. "What's important is to use 
them in one's day-to-day activities." 

"I see," said Pooh, although he didn't. One of his 
day-to-day activities at about this hour was to have a lit- 
tle something, a smackeral, of honey. So he began to 
pry the lid off of the eleventh honey jar, with that happy 
nimbly feeling Pooh bears often get, day-to-day. 

'Tor example," said Owl, placing his large wing on 
Pooh's paw and pushing the lid firmly back onto the 
jar— ("Oh, bother," said Pooh.) — "Subtraction is a 
mathematical concept" 

"Yes, of course," agreed Pooh, moving towards the 
lid on the tenth honey jar. 

"If you have ten honey jars — " 

"I have twelve," corrected Pooh. 

"Yes, a dozen— " 

"No, twelve," said Pooh, working on the lid. 

"Well, let's say you have ten honey jars, and you 
take away two—" 

"Take away?" Pooh forgot for a minute and 
scratched a worn spot behind his left ear. "Why would I 
take away two honey jars?" 

"Because that is subtraction," said Owl. 

"I don't like subtraction very much," thought 
Pooh. "It's rather rude, I believe, to take away one's 
honey jars." 

"And ten subtract two is an algebraic expression," 
said Owl. "You should use it in your day-to-day activi- 

"You mean take away two honey jars each dayT 
said Pooh, imagining his shelf of honey shrinking and 
shrinking until he was forced to eat haycorns like Piglet 
or extract of malt like Tigger. He didn't think he liked 
either of these things. 

"Or you could use the equation of one-fourth a jar 
of honey— " 

"Did I eat some of the honey?" asked Pooh, feeling 
nimbly again. 

"It's of no importance," said Own. "The one- 

"But it is important If I ate one-fourth a jar of 
honey I might be much kinder to this animal named 
Mathematics, whereas if I were hungry," explained 
Pooh, "I would be a grumbly sort of bear, nodding to 
each of Mathematics questions, only thinking of the 
one-fourth a jar of honey sitting on my shelf — " 

"Or," interrupted Owl, "you may use and X to rep 


23 Fall 1990 

In Which Pooh Is Introduced to the Animal 
Mathematics, continued 

resent a jar of honey — " 

"I put 'Hunny' on all my jars." 

"Yes, but if you used an X — " 

"'Hunny* looks so much nicer," said Pooh, pulling 
the lid of the ninth honey jar. 

"You may not know how many jars you have, so 
you would use an X to represent the unknown number," 
said Owl. 

"I have twelve." 

"Beg pardon?" 

"I have twelve jars of honey," said Pooh. 

"Pooh, I feel you don't grasp the importance of 
what I'm trying to teach you," sighed Owl. 

"I'm trying to grasp the lid of this honey jar right 
now, Owl," said Pooh, "but when I'm through I'll glad- 
ly grasp this animal Mathematics, and hold him too, if 
you should need to give him a tablespoon of strengthen- 
ing medicine." 

At that moment the lid of Pooh's ninth honey jar 
popped up into the air and Rabbit caught it most effec- 
tively with the top of his head. "Fine way to greet a 
hare bearing gifts," he mumbled 

"Now, Pooh, the concept of addition," continued 

"Hallo, Rabbit," said Pooh, with two pawfuls of 
honey, soon to be one mouthful of honey (although by 
subtraction, X's, or addition, I'm not sure). 

"You have twelve honey jars — " said Owl. 

"A dozen," said Rabbit. 

" — And someone gives you one more — "continued 

"A baker's dozen," said Rabbit, placing a fresh jar 
of honey next to Winnie-the-Pooh. "I don't have much 
use for honey today." 

Pooh, emerging from his honey jar, asked, 
"Addition means to give a bear a honey jar, from day to 

"In concept, yes," said Owl. 

"I'm beginning to like this animal Mathematics," 
said Pooh, pulling on the lid of Rabbit's honey jar. 

Wordstar 73 

Bob Loewe 

Haven't you seen the grass 

growing through sidewalk cracks? 
Haven't you seen vines 

smother a stone wall? 
Haven't you seen plants 

growing in rain gutters? 

How can man destroy this world? 

Haven't you seen rats 

living where there is no food? 
Haven't you seen roaches 

thriving on nothing? 
Haven't you seen ants 

everywhere in the city? 

How can man destroy this world? 

How pompous we are. 
. We think we can destroy the world. 
We can't, 

All man can destroy 
is man's world — 
leaving rats, ants, 
cockroaches, plants. 

That's all it takes to build a new world 
While man goes the way of the trilobite. 

June Johnson 

"Okay, what's wrong? Don't look at me like you 
don't know what I mean. We've sat here two hours 
drinking tea and talking about everything from my kids 
to your new wallpaper and you haven't once mentioned 
Phil." Mary knew her friend and the fact that she wasn't 
agonizing over feelings she was having regarding her 
"ex" wasn't normal, especially today. 

"I'm fine. Don't you think it's time I got on a 
new course already? Maybe, I'm just finally getting a 
grown-up attitude. At forty, don't you think it's about 
time? Want some more tea?" 

Tammy picked up the mugs and padded to the 


24 Fall 1990 

The Settlement, continued 

Maria Mellinger 

stove. How could she be seventy pounds overweight 
working the way she did? Mary knew her friend was a 
five-foot-four chunk, but you never really noticed when 
you faced Tammy head on. Her face and eyes were what 
people noticed. They radiated personality. Set in a 
frame of lush curly brown hair were round, healthy 
cheeks and eyes that crinkled and twinkled like a female 
Santa Claus's declaring a joy of living. At least they 
did, before the divorce a year and a half ago. It was 
slowly returning, that look, but today there was some- 
thing different in the quality of that smile that Mary 
couldn't put her finger on. 

"I've listened to you go through every mood swing 
possible concerning the divorce and your feelings. I've 
listened to anger and guilt, resentment and guilt, equa- 
nimity and guilt, even guilt and guilt, but today nothing 
and today there should be something but all I get is zip. 
So what gives?" 

"You mean because Phil and what's-her-name were 
married yesterday?" 

"Oh, so you do remember that? Yeah, because of 
that I expected some kind of reaction." 

Tammy padded back with the mugs, sat down, and 
sighed. "All right, here it is. The wedding put a finish 
to it more than the divorce ever did, I know it sounds 
cliche but the wedding marks the start of our getting on 
with our new lives. I don't want anger, resentment, or 
GUILT! a part of mine. After all, Phil gave me a lot 
and for that I'm grateful." 

"Excuse me, but are we talking about the same 
guy? The one who moved you from your comfortable 
house to that overpriced estate in his bid for power and 
money only to fail at both because of a number of per- 
sonality quirks and a drinking problem? So to make up 
for losing everything he takes up with what's-her-name 
and it's goodbye Tarn, I'm in love and I need her. This 
is the guy who gave you a lot? Did he give you this 
condo? No? How about help with the kids who have 
lots of Daddy's self-indulgent tendencies? No? So tell 
me what 'all' he gave you." 

The smile was totally back now. Tammy's face 
was shining with all the disused illuminosity of eighteen 
months. "He gave me criticism when I needed compas- 
sion, distance when I needed closeness, coldness when I 
needed warmth." 

"That is whqt you're grateful for?" 

"No. I'm grateful that now he's giving them to 
what' s-her-name." 




He was a boy back in Poland, 

And his grandfather sent him out 

For vodka, but it never got home. 

He took it to a wheat field 

Outside of Kielce and drank it, 

Discovering that mixture of 

Headache and happiness alcohol provides. 

Today, in America, he is not old enough to drink, 

But he loves me, and that is 

Headache and happiness enough. 

Sherry Gunderman 


On that humid night — 

When our neighborhood crickets babbled — 

of nothing of importance 
And I fooled with everyone else — 

because I couldn't have you. 
And my sister lost — 

her virginity 
And you kissed that trashy blond — 

in the closet 
And our band belted forth — 

the policy of truth 
And I made so many new friends — 

thanks to my drunken state 
And I disgusted you— 

with my drunken state 
And I made it so obvious — 

I would have done anything 

to have you — 
You pushed me away... 

Matt Brown 

The calico cat let out a sudden hiss and pulled its 
ears back along its head just as the little girl was about 
to pet it The girl quickly pulled her hand away from the 
normally congenial cat 

"Daddy," said the little girl as her father walked up 


25 F«U 1990 

A Breed Apart, continued 

behind her. "Something's wrong with Oscar. She tried 
to scratch me. I just wanted to pet her." 

Her father looked at the still tense cat from a safe 
distance. "I think Oscar is going to be a mommy," said 
her father. 

"Is that why she's so fat?" wondered the girl. 

"Yes, and why she is so cranky," her father smiled. 

Later that day, the little girls' father spoke to her 
mother in the kitchen. 

"I knew we should have had Oscar fixed. Now we 
will have to mess around with finding homes for the lit- 

"These things happen, Sue." 

"Yeah, I know, George. But you know, I don't re- 
member her ever going into heat Gee...I wonder who 
the father is?" 

"Oscar's a good looker. It wouldn't be hard for her 
to catch a man." 

"Funny. But do you think we should take the cat 
to the vet?" 

"Naw, Sue. It'll be educational for our daughter to 
see the miracle of birth." 

"Oh, I don't know. Jill just turned seven and..." 

The two were cut short in their conversation as Jill 
burst through the kitchen door. 

"Daddy, Daddy! Oscar's shaking real bad and mak- 
ing a mess in the basement! Come quick, hurry!" 

"Okay," her father said, a bit surprised at how 
quickly the birth was taking place. 

She led her father downstairs to a laundry basket 
filled with dirty clothes. The cat rested on the clothes 
pile as if in a trance. 

"She's going to have her kittens now, Jill?" 

"I want to watch," said the little girl as she propped 
down next to the basket 

One by one, three pink forms emerged from Oscar. 

"Oh, gross!" stated Jill. 

The kittens slowly started to shake and move their 
limbs. Oscar looked at her babies and started to lift her 
head to begin eating the afterbirth. But the cat suddenly 
stopped and relaxed her neck. She saw she didn't need 

"Ah...really gross," yelled the little girl as she 
pointed to the babies. The kittens were eating the after- 
birth. Instead of fur growing, a pale green color covered 
the litter's bodies. Teeth and claws grew to full size in a 
matter of seconds. Their eyelids opened to reveal great 
opaque red eyes. 

"George," yelled the mother. "Come on upstairs. 
Alex just called and he wants you to go over to his 


The father grabbed Jill's hand and took her up the 

"What's going on down there?" the mother asked. 

Trying to hide the extreme strangeness of the birth, 
George quickly shut the basement door behind him. 

"Oscar has, uh, given us a gift you won't like. 
And this time it's not a rat." 

"What do you mean, George?" 

"I'll tell you when I get back from Alex's house. 
But you and Jill stay out of the basement, please." 

A quick grip to the other side of town brought 
George over to Alex's. 

"What's up, Alex," asked George as he was greeted 
by the door. 

"You won't believe it. Come on in and take a 
look. Then tell me what you think." 

Alex led George into the garage where a low whim- 
pering sound was coming from. There, in the corner of 
the garage, lay Alex's Dalmatian bitch on an old sleep- 
ing bag in the sawdust 

"Look at those damn things," Alex said pointing to 
the dog. "Ever see anything like that in your life?" 

Unfortunately, George had. They looked like the 
exact same creatures his cat just gave birth to. 

"I don't know how to tell you this Alex, but my 
cat just gave birth to a litter just like this. Let's go to 
my place. Let me borrow a pair of your heavy work 

George put on the gloves in a rush and picked up 
one of 'puppies' to take with them. Had it not been for 
the leather gloves, the creature would have ripped and 
chewed off George's fingers. 

When they got back to George's house, Sue had 
left a note saying she had seen Oscar's litter. She took 
Jill over to her Aunt's so George could 'take care of the 

The two men walked down to the basement where 
they found the litter had started to walk. George held the 
'puppy* up next to a 'kitten' moving around at the base 
of the stairs. 

"See, Alex? Not a damn bit of difference." 
The captured pup wiggled and pawed to get away. 

"Oh man! George! Look!" exclaimed Alex point- 
ing to the dirty clothes basket 

The creatures were tearing at the meat off of the 
dead body of Oscar. One slowly gnawed at the dismem- 
bered foot of the cat while another batted around the 
cat's head on the floor. 

Out of nowhere one of the little monsters landed on 
Alex's left shoulder and took a deep bite out of it Alex 
screamed for George to get it off. Still wearing the 
gloves, George yanked the red-eyed beast from Alex and 


Fill 1990 

threw it to the ground. George instantly started to 
smash it with his foot 

The creature's head splattered against the concrete 
floor. George quit stomping and stared at it. He could- 
n't believe his eyes. The monster's head started to re- 
construct itself. Within a matter of seconds, it looked as 
if it didn't get a scratch. 

"Oh God, Alex! It's alive. How we going to kill 

"Bum the motherfuckers!" yelled Alex clenching 
his shoulder. 

The two men grabbed a trunk George had and 
rounded up the four beasts and put them in. Putting the 
trunk in the car, they headed for Alex's house. 

Alex went straight into his bathroom to give him- 
self first aid. George managed to find all of the litter 
feeding off Alex's dog. George carefully placed the re- 
maining mutants in the wooden trunk with the others. 
Closing the trunk, George hauled it outside and covered 
it with gasoline. 

"That's right, burn!" George said with a smile as 
his match burst the trunk into flame. 

That night George told his daughter that Oscar had 
died while in childbirth and that the kittens had to be put 
to sleep. 

The months passed and George didn't see or hear of 
any strange litters. He checked the tabloids once in 
awhile, but soon felt there was no need to worry. 

After all, he had more important things to worry 
about Better things. George's family life was full of 
happiness. His wife Sue was pregnant 

She was due any day now. 

Maria Mellinger 

"I can write a poem any time," she told me, and 
ripped out a sheet of paper to prove it She looked 
around us. "First I need some inspiration," she said. I 
guess our environment was lacking. 

She reached into a leather fringed bag, the kind my 
mother used to take on vacations when I was younger, 
soft and bulging with necessities. Out came her 
cigarettes and lighter, whereas my mother would 
probably have pulled out a diaper or pacifier. She bit the 
end of an unfiltered fag and picked tobacco off her tongue 
in a Clint Eastwood impersonation, then lit up. 

"Hey, my lighter! Great idea, huh?" and her pen 
began moving. I watched as the lines emptied them- 
selves from the ink; lines about laughter and smoke, 


emptiness in a bar, her lighter her only companion. 

I envied her. I wanted to write like that I wanted a 
lighter, man. 

A year later she was married. I saw her in a theater 
and told her I was still writing, things were going well. 

She told me to quit smoking. 


Holly Bruns 


Blended families. 

Let's promenade 

Mine, yours, ours, 

his, hers, 



is so 


impedes romance 

angry circumstance. 

Connie Legters 

What is truth? The dictionary states: fact actuali- 
ty, reality, but where is found definition of a child's 
memory as surety where realism cannot exist? It lies 
somewhere in between. 

When I was a young girl, I had a friend who lived 
nearby, just far enough from my home to feel the dis- 
tance. It's strange that I recall the friend yet forget her 
name, but that is the truth of the matter. 

What I do remember was her large, semi-affluent 
home and its grounds. Bordering a railroad freight yards, 
it was not as prestigious as it once had been. 
Everything outside was covered with coal dust compli- 
ments of the nearby trains. The futility of outside main- 
tenance was evidenced by unsightly grime. The mother 
waged her own personal war against dust inside the im- 
maculate home. 

But it really is not this house that impressed me 
most On another part of the property, down the hill 
next to the freight yards, sat an old, decapitated house 
left over from another time. For some reason unknown- 
to the present occupants, the upstairs had been plucked 
away, leaving the wooden floors exposed to the sky. 


27 F«U 1990 

Uncertain Truth, continued 

The downstairs rooms were locked away, keys lost to 
sometime else. 

My friend and I climbed a ladder to reach the up- 
stairs floor where we whirled and acted out our show 
business fantasies. It was an ideal stage on which to 
perform. The mother, upon discovering our theater, for- 
bid us to play there. The building was dangerous, she 
said, needing long to be destroyed. Armed with dust-rags 
and mop, her attention soon left us to our own devices, 
and of course, we headed straight back to the old house. 

The lore of Broadway and Hollywood enticed elabo- 
rate fantasies from the minds of two ten-year-old girls. 
My friend and I were stars caught up in romance and 
tragedies, not to mention our dazzling performances be- 
fore an imaginary audience. We played and played at this 
game until we finally became bored, then we explored. 

Searching for openings in the wooden floor of our 
upstairs stage, we found see-through holes and discovered 
a world forgotten. Downstairs, furniture sat in place 
under a century of dust, doors and windows opaque in a 
haze of dust-stained glass. It was locked away as if wait- 
ing for life to return. 

I loved to look into that dim recess, as if my seeing 
the rooms kept them from not existing. I found myself, 
separate from my friend, being drawn to the forgotten 
past of the house. I returned alone, again and again. A 
calmness came over me as I immersed my imagination 
into the house's aura. I would belly down to my peep- 
hole and live life for the gloomy rooms below, through 
my mind. 

I tried to reason how a home could be left to die 
alone. What set of circumstances forbid its people to re- 
turn? Did they leave their home and somehow die out- 
side its walls, enroute, perhaps? As I looked down into 
the abandoned rooms, I felt strangely as if the house was 
pleased I'd reclaimed it 

My new interest soon replaced friends, drawing me 
ever closer to the house. I felt lonely when I had to 
leave it at night The weirdness of this I was well aware 
of, but the allure reaching out for me was compellingly 

It spoke to me in daydreams at school. It halted 
my sleep at night, and caused me to lay wandering inac- 
cessible rooms, in my mind. My parents become con- 
cerned when I stood before them, circle-eyed from lack of 
sleep with a failing report card, 

I was taken to the doctor who knew absolutely 
nothing of my obsession with the house. He prescribed 
vitamins. I decided to stay away from the decapitated 
house, recognizing the harm coming to me from living 
through peep-holes into another time. 


During winter, things were fine. Spring vacation 
came and went, then school let out for the summer. My 
grades had improved, and I was sleeping well. 

The rumor came to me one warm evening that my 
friend and her family had gone out of town, a death in 
the family. Heat-lightning zigzagged across the night 
sky, and stronger than ever before, I felt the old house 

Clutching my father's flashlight, I crept alone 
through the darkness answering that call. My friend's 
home was dark and foreign-looking as I passed it by and 
made my way down the hill to the old building. I'd 
never seen it by night, and felt thrill of re-discovery as I 
knelt to belly down at my peep-hole. The flashlight 
glowed into the room, lighting comers I'd never been 
able to see. 

I saw a pin cushion on the buffet table, where it 
had been left beside rusted sewing scissors. On the walls 
hung cobweb-laced portraits of somber relations over- 
looking the dining room table. My light reflected off a 
porcelain spittoon just visible inside the next room. 

It was on the window seat I saw the sweater, and I 
paused. It was not there before! Devoid of human rem- 
nants, I had felt free to imagine whatever came. I had 
not seen a frayed sweater laying in window's light. 
Suddenly, I was uneasy. 

In certainty, something had changed within those 
rooms. Long, lost keys barred anyone entrance through 
doors or windows, from where did the sweater come? 
My attention was jarred to the candle holder on the table 
where once had sat nothing at all, smoke softly rising 
from its charred wick. 

Perhaps it was chance, but a lightning bolt struck a 
nearby tree just as I swung the flashlight beam toward 
the doorway leading into the parlor. An instant only of 
vision revealed what I so feared to see, a ghostly shape 
in flight from the light shown down from my peep-hole 

I spun and ran, throwing off the freeze of fright, and 
climbed down the ladder without even looking back. My 
obsession with an old house was history! But when I 
left that night, I left an absolute of childhood behind. 
Had my ten-year-old eyes seen a supernatural something, 
or was it perhaps a transient broken in, compliments of 
the nearby trains? I never went back to question, for that 
very night the old house burned to the ground. 

It could have been a young imagination, and at 
times I convince myself it was. But I still think of that 
window seat, plainly visible as I looked down in day- 
time's smoky gloom with nothing on it. And I remem- 
ber the^nighttime existence of a sweater and a smoking 
candle, then I believe what I saw. 


28 FtU 1990 

Uncertain Truth, continued 

As a child will do, I tucked the memory away to be 
brought out only when I am more brave than the night it 
happened. Unable to reach conclusion then, it lingers 
now as uncertain truth. Perhaps it's best this way. 

Barbara Pillasch 

The old woman saw the car sweep over the squirrel 
and suck his tiny body up like a dry leaf, tumbling him 
end over end and spitting him into the gutter. He lay 
there like a discarded toy whose stuffing had long ago 
been child-pummeled and flattened. What mysterious er- 
rand had brought him to the bustling business section of 
town, bereft of living green, shadeless? There, the sear- 
ing sun burned down on store-fronts, saloons, and a few 
upstairs apartments. The squirrel must have come from 
the millrace, a slender stretch of the Kankakee River 
which ran behind the row of shops on the west side of 
the street. Like a different country, that area was as 
filled with growing things, wildlife and summer scents 
as Front Street was with dead cement and gasoline 

The old woman stooped and gendy lifted the still- 
breathing body. She carried it back through her store and 
to her back yard along the banks of the millrace and 
placed it on a pile of grass clippings inside a large flight 
cage. Sam had built the cage last year for an abandoned 
baby robin. He was always rescuing things — said he 
couldn't help it. Built the cage just before he died. 
Pounded in the last nail, went upstairs and grinned at 
her— said, "Okay, Kiddo, now I got me a real critter 
cage. 59 Then he ate supper, went to bed, and died. 

He laid his used-up old bones down and his life got 
up and tiptoed away in the night If he had moaned or 
whimpered or called her name, the old woman lying be- 
side him had not heard; she had been busy in her own 
nighdy dying. 

Sam, she thought as she entered the cage, which 
was tucked under the steps that led to the apartment over 
her little story. Empty now, the robin grown and re- 
leased to make his own way, the cage would provide a 
haven for the squirrel to die in peace, safe from maraud- 
ing cats and other enemies. That he would die soon the 
old woman was sure, though the only visible sign of in- 
jury was a litde blood on one side of his face. 

As hot midmorning slid into sizzling afternoon, 
then into steaming evening, crickets began to rejoice at 


another day of survival. The old woman observed the 
squirrel's fragile breathing and waited. Suddenly he 
woke and tried to crawl. There appeared to be no broken 
bones, but there was no way to know about internal in- 
juries. As minutes passed, he seemed to become 
stronger, but the old woman became anxious when she 
saw he was becoming frightened. Would he have a bet- 
ter chance of recovery, she wondered, if she released him? 
Perhaps if he were free he could find a burrow where he 
would feel safe. Perhaps keeping him penned would so 
frighten him that he would die of fear rather than his in- 

The old woman opened the door and the squirrel 
slowly crawled out of the pen. He was clearly disorient- 
ed and possibly blind; he bumped into things. She 
picked him up— he didn't resist — and returned him to the 
cage. She then placed a pan of water near him. The 
frightened animal burrowed into the grass clippings 
where he stayed, still as grief. 

As darkness fell, the old woman went again to 
check. His breathing had become a barely perceptible 
moan, mingling with sounds of the night, with the 
sounds of all things dying in the night alone, under 
shrubbery, in holes and burrows and beds. She could 
hear their sighs and whimpers in the dark. The sounds, 
like ghosts, followed her up the stairs into the cheerful 
light of her kitchen, into her bedroom as she prepared for 
bed, and into dreams that plundered her sleep. 

At daybreak the old woman quietly stole down the 
stairs to where the squirrel lay, still half-covered by the 
grass clippings, still breathing. He hadn't moved. She 
had hoped it would be over for him, and dismayed, sat 
down on the steps and gazed at his sleeping form. She 
sat with him as the sun rose like a ruddy hot air balloon. 

After awhile the creature stirred. He backed out of 
bis "burrow" and looked curiously around, As the old 
woman watched in disbelief, he began to wash his face. 
He rubbed his now swollen left eye and jaw along the 
ground as though trying to remove the hurt Then he 
climbed the eight-foot side of the wire mesh cage, a litde 
wobbly, but determinedly looking for a way out He 
seemed oblivious of the old woman. She rose — he start- 
ed; he could see. His efforts to escape became frantic. 

The old woman quietly approached the cage, eased 
the door open and stepped back. The squirrel immediate- 
ly found the opening and skittered out and down the gar- 
den path, where he stopped to munch fallen mulberries 
for a few minutes. Then, tail twitching, he proceeded on 
down to the bank of the millrace where he took a long 
drink. The old woman followed and watched as he disap- 
peared mto a log pile near the dock. Sam, her heart said. 

The sun danced and began its burn for another day. 


29 Fill 1990 

Maria Mellinger 

Another Day, continued 

Sun-diamonds cascaded downstream, joined by gliding 
mallards, who honked in celebration. 

Sherry Gunderman 


I walked into your apartment 

with my past on my arm 

with no intentions to make you jealous. 

But to show 


that you are not 

my only option. 

I sat with my past 

on your floor 

and we all laughed 


as your present 

sang along to the radio. 

I hid my jealousy 
rather well that night 


With flue-laden muscles and my forehead 

Pressing down into my eyes, 

Caused, I think, by too many perfumes 

Worn by too many old women 

(Long past weddings, waiting for funerals), 

I watch our friends marry. 

I reach for your hand and you're shocked — 

I'm only supposed to hold it when I'm frightened. 

In my brain the neurons are transmitting neuroses, 

Obsessive thoughts and worries for you. 

I'm itchy inside the mouth, with 

Clogged ears and fogged eyes 

(But I think I can hear a crack in the 

Church bells. Can you see it?) 

My long-term memory is expanding, 

My short-term memory hiding the details, 

Yet I have total recall of what should be forgotten 

In order to get on with my life. 

And then we're leaving, and you're 

Rinsing the smell off your hands in the holy water 

To the click/clack of the high heels you hate. 

Beneath the stale rice lying in the churchyard, 

My heel leaves a small hole in the grass. 

You don't love me anymore. 


Carol Spinabella 


I could write about cheese in a CROCK 

Or the rhythmic ticking of a CLOCK 

Or boats that are tethered to a DOCK 

Or birds that fly within a FLOCK 

Or creatures that live beneath a ROCK 

Or the vacant mind of a high-school JOCK 

Or the space-age adventures of MR. SPOCK 

Or first-date knees that tremble and KNOCK 

Or even about the life of a SOCK 

But it seems that I've written about WRITER'S BLOCK. 

Sherry Gunderman 

My aloof sarcasm 
I wear as a shield — 

a mask- 
Anonymous — 
I prefer to remain... 

I can hide behind 

This facade 


wit and arrogance 


stoop to pick up 
the broken pieces 
when no one is looking 




Fill 1990 

Bob Loewe 



What an enormous figure 

A ponderous amoung 

Yet here I am 


In a world where thin 

Is in! 

I feel huge 


I like my Danish build 

Is it too much 

to lug around? 


The floor talks 

As I walk 

My desk creaks under 


As weight I vowed 

Never to reach 

Yet I don't regret 


Connie Legters 


When I must go, 

she smiles and waves, 

but tears fall when I have gone, I know. 

Cared for by them, 

it's me she needs. 

She smiles when I return once more. 

What is death 
but life without love? 
I am not proud 
that I abandon her. 

She does not know 

who holds her hand, 

aware only someone lets it go. 

When I must leave, 

she waves goodbye, 

and smiles as I go out the door. 




In the long hours before darkness 

afternoon stretches out 

like a waking cat 

against mottled purplish skies— 

lam too sad 

to open my sleepy eyes 

to evening light; 

I hear an aching melody 

straining to free itself 

from my soul. 

I am too winded 

by a stomach punch of melancholy 

to pull myself up 

from the warm oozy earth; 

I want to sink slowly out of sight 

squeeze into a void 

of non-pain, non-feeling. 

Again I gasp for air, 

surprised by another attack 

shocked by its intensity 

its insistence. 

I wonder why 

I just don't die 

in the long hours 

before darkness. 

Julie Haggerty 


Never did I see 

his face 

but it was familiar 

Never did I feel 

his kiss 

but 1 felt I hadS 

Never did I look in 

his eyes 

but I knew them 

Never did I know 

this person 

but I kriow I have. 



Fill 1990 

Sherry Gunderman 


He always loved my poetry. 
"It's so objective!" he once said. 
And I readily confessed... 
that I cannot write when I'm happy 
Therefore — this time with you 
has kept my paper very dry. 

He always loved my poetry. 

"You're fascinating!" he once said. 

And now I readily confess... 

that these are for you — 

a present 

to cherish as you will... 

my heart 

my soul 

on blue-lined paper. 

He always loved my poetry. 

"You're an idealistic dreamer," he once told me. 

And I still vainly confess... plead... 

that you not let me see you 

destroy my type-written heartbeats 

this time without you — 

has provided me with too many masterpieces. 

Robert Franklin 


I once knew a girl 

Anne was her name 

Her idea of fun was a ride on cocaine 

A beautiful white stallion 

But strong in its head 

She'd ride it for hours 

A ride for the dead 

Some of her friends would tell her to stop 

But she loved the white powder 

The hits never stopped 

Some of her friends died from the "caine 

4 Too bad," she'd say 

As she sniffed away the pain 

Until the day when the truth came too late 

She died at thirteen 

Before her first date 

Lora Baker 


I had propped you on a pedestal 

of gold and ivory worth 

worshiped you 

idolized you 

you became a symbol 

for all things I was afraid 

to be 

You walked life's wild side 

while I, I followed in 

safety's stride 

Now as I look at you on a pedestal 

of a different kind, 

six by three foot 

resting in a satin-lined bed of pine 

clay-like fingers 

numbly wrapped around beads 

nausea rises in my throat 

I look to needle marks 

uncovered on your arms 

I have just one question 

How's the snow in heaven? 


I am he as you 

are he as you are me and 

we are all confused. 


Maria Mellinger 


Months after you had gone, 
I found a stray blonde hair 
Clinging to my mattress 
And I wanted to tell you how it 
Comforted me, unexpectedly, 
But I knew you'd only wonder 
Why I hadn't changed the sheets., 



Fall 1990 

Wisdom Through The Pages, continued 


"I guess you should've called before you planned 
the tea," Plot told his friend. "I've made the same dread- 
ful mistake myself. They're an awful assortment of 

"I quite agree, Plot. Perhaps the next time I have 
tea I'll invite just the Fiction Society." 

"That's not a bad idea, Mr. Fiction, but you can 
skip my invitation if you're planning to invite 'the 
seven deadly sins.' They are absolutely repulsive. You 
can lose your reputation by associating yourself with 

"Perhaps then," Mr. Fiction said slightly vexed, 
"I'll skip the Fiction crowd altogether and invite only 
the Drama Society." 

"In that case," replied Mr. Plot, "I hope that you 
will definitely invite me. I love to associate with drama- 
tists and thespians. They make such an exciting visual 
impact at parties." 

"You like that idea, then?" asked Mr. Fiction. 

"Why yes, it's a novel idea!" Plot replied 

Sherry Gunderman 


Two months 

61 days 

1464 hours 

And you were 

a good person 

an honest person 

an enchanting soul — 

who had fallen 



into my arms — 

And gave me the best Monday 

the best May day 

the best day in the city 

the best 14th 

the best art show 


walk along the broken sidewalk 

record store browse 


the best memories — 
of my life. 


I woke one day to ask a question 

about what I'd been 

and who I was 

as though my life 

had been fractured 

like Eve's 

and now I needed to find 

the real me. 

I don't know who that is. 

Michelangelo said that art 

is trapped in the medium 

waits for the artist 

to pull it out 

give it shape. 

If I am art and artist 

I must decide a shape 

that is already shaped, 

find the finished piece 

which has no definite form. 

I wonder why it matters 

to find a self 

I've never really liked 

and try to love it, 

or if I can trick myself 

into believing I care. 

I ask myself 

how I can dislike a person 

I haven't met; 

what's so frightening 

about her. 

Jeff Graves 


Those eyes that reel me in. 
And cold lips that pull 
The life out of my lungs. 
I drowned even before 
She led me to the water. 
Blinded by the love. 
I was happy to go. 


Wordstar 73 


Fill 1990 


Wisdom Through The Pages, continued 

Both the men were getting frightened. 

And then he thought to himself, 

In his Individual style, of course, 

"Why the hell did I come to this party? 

I could have stayed at home and fought 

with Conventional Poetry regarding his ideas 

of mastering conventional techniques in poetry 

before going on to attain individuality. 

That's an argument I really enjoy." 

The doorbell rang, "Ding-dong" was heard, 

Another insufferable party nerd! 

Mr. Onomatopoeia, 

Accompanied by his wife Maria, 

Slammed the door with a bang and a crash, 

said, "Thanks fer invitin me to the bash." 

"AaaaaaCHOOO!" went his wife and she started to 

"Can someone hand me a Kleenex, please?" 
Her hubby ignored and slurped his tea, 
Unzzziiippped his zipper, and said, "I gotta pee." 

Mystery Host attempted to divert the crowd's attention, 

"Would anyone care for an image cluster?" 

Miss Haiku stepped up to the host 

a Marilyn Monroe whisper was all she could muster: 

I'd like to announce 
Clusters are my favorite 
Thank you very much 

"Quiet! Quiet please!" said Caesura. 
"I'd like a moment, a moment of silence, 
to honor my hero, my dear departed Beowulf. 
Would everyone please pause for a moment?" 
Mr. Poet was muted in the middle of 
his metric conversation with Metaphor.* 
"Kiss my four-footed line!" yelled Tetrameter. 
Iambic laughed and stuck out his tongue, 
He lacked comprehension because he was young, 
Trochee joined him, good and hammered, 
"Wulfie poopedat parties," he stammered. 
"Let's all drink to that!" said Pentameter. 
Mystery Host was feeling stressed, 
"One too many metered guest.." 
But I hated reading Beowulf in English too. 
Didn't you? 

Mr. P and Metaphor were watching Mystery Host, 
The tea was now a drunken ball, more boisterous than 

His eyes were squinting, his knuckles whitened, 
His grip on the tray of clusters tightened; 


"There's something wrong it seems to me, 

You're drinking booze and smoking tea! 

Is this what poets do for sport? 

What a discourteous way to cavort! 

I invite you here for fun and frolic 

and some jerk brings a kid with colic, 

another of you drinks beer from china, 

You might as well drink turpentina!" 

(He was so mad he hadn't realized his lexicographical 

"Hit the bricks you idiots," 
the Mystery Host proceeded 
"I've had enough of your vernacular talk, 
the stench in here is fetid." 

Mr. P and Metaphor 
egressed before the others, 
disconcerted, to say the least, 
by their poetic brothers. 
They filed out, one by one, 
and when the exiting was done, 
Cliche was having so much fun, 
he didn't see what he had done. 

"...and don't forget, look before you leap." 

Cliche, still blabbing like a creep 

and didn't see his metered feet 

had stepped into a busy street 

He met a fast-moving vehicle from a metaphor 

head on and was killed. 

Deader than a doornail 

Back inside 

Mystery cried 

But not 'cause old Cliche had died. 

He cried you see 

Because his tea 

Was wasted on the poetry. 

He started to bellow 

But then phoned a fellow 

Who knew about parties and such, 


"Hi, Plot It's me, Mr. Fiction. I've just had the 
most frightful experience." 

"Geeze. Sorry to hear about it Tell me what hap- 

"Well," said Mr. Fiction, "I invited several mem- 
bers of the poetry society to tea. They were horribly 
rude guests. Made quite a mess of my tea. You should 
see the clutter they left behind." 


33 FiU 1990 

Malinda Holiday 

Here's to the party, 
Here's to the booze, 
Here's to the parents, 
Taking a snooze. 
Here's to the girls, 
Here's to the boys, 
Here's to the neighbors, 
Complaining of the noise. 
Here's to that car, 
You saved up to buy, 
Here's to your girlfriend, 
Who needed a ride. 
Here's to the race, 
Here's to the speed, 
Here's to that curve, 
You just didn't see. 
So here's to that party, 
Here's to that booze, 
And here's to those parents 
Awakened from their snooze. 
Here's to two lives 
Taken at youth. 
Here's to the party 
And here's to you. 


Holly Bruns 


The phone rang at half past noon. Mr. Poet was invited 
to an afternoon tea by a mystery host He accepted the 
invitation with some reservation knowing that at times 
these functions could be quite a bore. Nonetheless, he 
slipped into something less comfortable for the party and 
walked the six blocks to Mystery Host's house promptly 
at three-thirty. He talked to himself on the way: 

"I don't know why I'm going to tea, 

The fools don't know how to compress," said he. 

He was met at the door by Hackneyed Language. 

"Your arrival is as welcome 

as the first breath of spring..." 

Mr. P nodded and shook hands with the thing. 

Old Cliche was tickled pink, . 
"Come in, sit down, let's have a drink. 
Have you heard that a rolling stone 

Wordeater 73 32 

gathers no moss? And, 
You can't teach an old dog new tricks?" 
Mr. P started to worry and thought, 
"This party is crowded with hicks." 

He saw Mr. Metaphor across the room 
and approached him with the speed of light. 
"This party's in the toilet, Mr. M" said he. 
"Yes, Mr. P you're quite right, 
Let us go then, and try to find 
guests of more intellectual mind." 
Into a party jungle they did wind, 
hunting for their similar kind. 

First person they saw, 
Miss Haiku sitting alone 
wants no visitors. 

Off in the kitchen three ladies chat; 
Assonance, Consonance, Alliteration and her brat. 
Consonance was fixing coffee and laughing gleefully. 
Assonance was looking at a cook book and eating a 

sugar cookie. 
Alliteration cackled continuously about the brat kid's 

colic condition. 
"From the kitchen, let us flee," 
said Mr. M to Mr. P. 

They saw three more out in the garden, 

Simple Rhyme said, "Big your pardon, 

skip the tea and gimmee a beer, 

it tastes much better, gives me cheer, 

served in a tea cup, isn't it queer/" 

"You're quite the fool!" said Sophisticated Rhyme. 

"I don't understand your simplicity. 

You're nothing but a waste of time, 

who brings me no felicity." 

The third guest in that group of three, 

Mr. Individuality, 

interjected very thoughtfully, 

"Simple Rhyme and Complex Rhyme," 

(he was using Sophisticated Rhyme's nickname, of 

"Why are you fighting all the time? 
Don't you know there is a place, 
for both of you to show your face? 
Simple Rhyme holds simple pleasure, 
In Complex Rhyme there's hidden treasure, 
So stop this asinine dispute 
'Cause no one really gives a hoot." 


Fall 1990 

Lora Baker 


May he who drops 

thorns, be without 


Malinda Holiday 


I know it won't be easy, 

To raise my very own kid, 

But I must take responsibility for 

Something that I did. 

You're really not a burden, 

For I'd go that extra mile 

Because you're not just a daughter 

You're my first and only child. 

I often wish I'd waited 

Until the time was right 

To have a precious someone 

I could tuck in at night 

I don't regret having you, 

I just wish I'd waited awhile, 

But now I love you so, 

You're my first and only child. 

It's not simple taking care of you, 

There are things I have yet to learn, 

But you'll never hear me saying 

"I wish you'd never been born." 

You're my innocent baby, 

Sweet, cherished and mild, 

You're more than just a responsibility, 

You're my first and only child. 

Maria Mellinger 


So much depends on a body 

And the clothes it is packaged in — 

Intelligence, attitude, a guaranteed 

Place in the world like an 

Empty hanger in a hall closet, 

When so much more is done 

With nudity. 




Sometimes in summer 

Daddy would take us fro a drive 

in the hot night 

through town 

past streedights and neon signs 

in the hot summer 

after the sun had long gone 

the asphalt still soft 

still hot 

seemed to steam 

our bodies crammed into the car 

each staking out a spot 

where nobody would touch 

any part of anybody else 

me trying to pretend 

I was the only one in the car 

building a wall 

between me and the others 

not seeing them 

not hearing their sounds 

clinging to the door 

resting my head in the window 

feeling the hot air 

flip my hair over and over 

me and the hot night 

me and the night 

Jeffrey Michael B 


the day you went away 

and the day sun hid his face 

were the same 

the night you said hello 

was the night the still moon froze 


Fill 1990 


n:"'[ :u^ 

? -V 


; /l